He walked in like he owned the place. First, he ignored the hostess and walked up to the bar. Then, he stood in between the two brass handrails which indicated not only the cocktail service station, but also exactly where not to stand.
“Excuse me,” he said.
Never mind that I was in the process of taking a long complicated food order, followed by an equally long and complicated drink order. Which in the service industry is the exact opposite way of doing things. But the service industry is operated on one hand by people trying to make things more efficient and then opposed by those who have the exact opposite goal.
“Excuse me,” he said again.
“Just a minute,” I had to say, when it was apparent that the obviousness of the task at hand wasn’t going to do it.
Occasionally customers will just blurt out something as you pass by, regardless of whether you are carrying a tray of drinks, or wheeling someone out on a gurney. The first happens a lot, the second has only happened to me once, but still…
“Excuse me,” he said again.
“Hang on just frickin second,” I wanted to say. But what came out was a much more professional “Just one second, Sir.”
Some people really don’t get it.
“What wines do you have?” he asked.
I pointed at the giant illuminated fluorescent inked chalkboard hanging on the wall not 26 inches from him. He seemed startled at his own imperception.
“Do you have gewürztraminer?”
“Is it on the board?” I wanted to say, but instead just shook my head.
“Do you have Riesling?” he asked.
I looked at the board, deliberately, and then looked at him. “I have a Gruner,” I said.
“It’s an off dry white wine from Austria that is similar to gewürztraminer and some Rieslings,” I replied.
By now the cocktail server had to get into her station.
“Excuse me,” she said.
He looked at her and then didn’t move.
“Excuse me,” she said again.
Again, nothing. It is ironic that the people who need most to be seen heard or acknowledged, are usually the ones who will not see, hear, or acknowledge anyone else.
“Can you please move,” she said finally, bumping him with her tray full of glassware.
“That will be $12.53,” I said.
“The board says $11.50,” he countered.
“Plus tax,” I replied.
“It doesn’t say that.”
I pointed at the “plus tax” written on the board.
Perception myopia causes some people to only retain what they want from their reading. This type of myopia is true with books on politics and especially true with books on religion.
“You charge tax?” he asked, as if businesses have a choice.
“I own a restaraunt,” he said.
Owning a business doesn’t make you an expert. It can, but sometimes it doesn’t. In fact, in some cases, it has the exact opposite effect. Because some owners stop asking questions and as a consequence, also stop learning. They believe they don’t have too anymore. And nobody is going to make them.
Once I worked at a nightclub where the owner hired a 19-year-old cocktail server. He didn’t know – because he didn’t ask – that everyone in the club had to be at least 21, including the staff. Oops.
“Can you put it on the table,” he said pointing at a table that wasn’t empty yet.
“Are you sure you are going to that table?” I asked.
He didn’t go to that table. He went to a table on the back patio. I know that because I had to look around for him for 10 minutes.
Later on, he stopped by the bar again.
“Your board is wrong,” he said.
“You have the region for the Gruner wrong,” he said pointing at the name of the winery. “You need to change it.”
Funny how an hour ago he didn’t even know what Gruner was.
“That’s the producer,” I said. “The area for the region says ‘Austria.’ We don’t want to be too specific with foreign wines,” I said.
He still insisted it was wrong, even after I drew an imaginary line down all the regions on the board: France, Italy, Spain.
“OK,” I said finally.
“Well,” he said, crossing his arms.
“Aren’t you going to change it?”
Which left me with these thoughts:
-I think he meant ‘now.’
-The big fish in the small pond doesn’t last very long when it finds itself in the ocean.
-“I’ve always found that the speed of the boss is the speed of the team,” once said Lee Iacocca.
-A boss in one location can be a real knucklehead in another.
-You might own a restaraunt, but you don’t own this one.