A first from the Codger’s Corner. Used to be in a restaurant that a waiter or waitress would just walk up and ask for your order. But now there’s a whole series of statements and questions to which one must respond. (Note that I did NOT write “litany of statements . . . .” A stop must be made to the the misuse of “litany” as synonymous with “list.)” Anway . . .oh, yes: Perhaps you the reader can suggest some responses that are a cool, clever, but not at the expense of the unfortunate young man or woman who hasn’t found any better work than waiting on me.
First, there’s “My name is Michelle, I’ll be etc.” I don’t see the sense of this. In what later part of the transaction do first names matter? It happens that this Michelle was a sweet ingenue, but as she didn’t follow her name with her phone number, what was the point? In any case, the principle of egalitarianism that may be this country’s (and my own) one virtue requires that I tell Michelle my name is Joe. Which is absurd. Let’s go around the table introducing ourselves.
Later comes the question, “Is everything all right?” This is usually asked solicitously, expressing his or her interest in my welfare. Accordingly, I should answer in an appreciative spirit of enthusiasm that the meal is indeed delicious. At the same time, I’ve been told that the question is a legalistic ploy by which the restaurant covers itself. If the customer answers “Yes,” then the customer supposedly can’t refuse to pay the bill on account of some fault in the meal served. Since I haven’t finished the meal, I’m not sure that it deserves payment, so I have to be guarded as well as gracious in my response, which is hard to pull off. (By the way, I wonder if the question really could work as legalistic ploy. A lawyer here would help.)
Finally, there’s the most irksome question of all: During a pause in your eating, he or she comes up and asks, “Still working on it?” This is supposedly more polite than “Are you finished?” but actually casts the situation in a light unflattering both to the eater, who is working away like an animal on its prey, and the food, whose consumption has become an unpleasant task. Sometimes I try to indicate that eating, usually and in this particular case, was not intended by our Creator to be work, but rather a gift of refreshment for our spirits and strength. I’d like to come up, however, with something less didactic. Any ideas?