It amazes me that some people do not know the proper etiquette when dining out. Not that there's a specific rule that you have to follow when you're eating at a restaurant but there's a generally acceptable behavior (ie civilized) that rules us when we do.
I work in a restaurant in Chicago which is located in a famous landmark, therefore the place attracts a lot of tourists. It is, basically, a tourist trap. It's a decent restaurant, not too upscale that it scares away the suburbanites coming into the city for a day of shopping at Niketown and Filene's Basement, but it's not Popeye's either. I'm not going into details but suffice to say they are a California chain famous for their desserts.
My official position in the restaurant is Operations Support Technician which means I do accounting, financial, human resource-related work as well as various secretarial duties. Occasionally though, I will pick up barista shifts to help out or when I need the extra cash. Nothing strenuous or requiring any amount of brain power, I just make espresso drinks behind the bar and serve customers who are smart enough to figure out that they could get the same level of service there, or better sometimes than if they 're seated at an actual table. And this is when I observe human behavior at it's finest (and worst), at least, when it comes to restaurant etiquette.
The place I work at gets really packed, especially during the weekends and in the summer time. The wait for a table can get up to 2-3 hours sometimes, depending on the size of the party, and they don't take reservations. Several reasons: It's always too busy for reservations, and they get the sort of clientele that won't show up even after they've made one. And since it is a family-style, casual place, there are a lot of kids there. A lot. Screaming, crying kids throwing temper tantrums. Kids running arond like it's their house. I'm generally reminded of a Chucky Cheese. I don't mind any of that but for the reason that since the restaurant can be extremely packed, letting you kid run around the place can potentially be dangerous to them. For example, there are food runners delivering food to tables and the food ain't all cold salads and soda pop. The plates are steaming hot!!! Once I almost dropped a cup of hot soup on some kid who was spinning around on the spot (mind you, this is a crowded place) while his parents were busy talking amongst themselves. Keep an eye on your children if you don't want them drenched in hot soup. And for crying out loud, if you sit at the espresso bar (seven seats, spaced apart enough for comfort) while waiting for your table, please do not let your child play with the silverware that's been set there. Those are for diners, they are not playthings. Do not freak out if your child pokes itself in the eye with a fork, he is not supposed to play with said fork. Please smack him and take away the weapon.
If you're sitting at the espresso bar (MY station) and you order something that requires me leaving the espresso bar (for example you order an alcoholic drink from the other bar), please wait for me to come back with your order before disappearing to God-knows-where. It is rude to leave me standing with YOUR drink that YOU haven't paid for. If your table has been called, please have someone in your party pay for you. We at the bar do not follow the practice of transferring checks to your server, mainly because of how busy it usually is, and there can be up to 30 servers on the shift on any given weekend. You order at the bar, you pay at the bar. And when you tip me for making your espresso drink, please do not throw your 25 cent coin at me like I'm a beggar. Gently place it on the counter. And please do not come round into my side of the espresso bar and touch the espresso machine. It is just an espresso machine, it will not transform into a robot.
One of the busiest sections of the restaurant is the outside patio, especially when it's a gorgeous day out. It's fun, you can people watch, and if you're lucky, Steadman (Oprah's bf) will walk by. The patio has this I'm-sitting-outside-Euro-cafe-style feel to it. Whatever. And since you're outside there are bound to be pigeons hopping about, waiting for scraps of food from the patio guests. Please do not, for crying out loud, feed the pigeons!! They are dirty, disease-carrying city pigeons, they are not carrier pigeons or doves. They are basically rats with wings. If you do not know it, I will let you know right now, pigeons carry cryptococosis, an infection caused by the fungus cryptococcus found in pigeon droppings. I know it's cute, "Oooh I'm feeding pigeons, makes me feel like I'm in Europe," but don't, okay? If you drop a crumb on the ground, fifty pigeons will descend on said crumb, not one. Fifty. Do you want fifty pigeons flocking around you while you're eating your Orange Chicken or Chinese Chicken Salad? I don't. Please smack your kid if they feed the pigeons.
I know it's a little intimidating walking into a completely packed restaurant with no clue as to where the front desk is located. Please ask any of the waitstaff any questions you may have. They have been trained to answer in a pleasant fashion, even if you are being rude and impatient. Please do not swear at us, just because you have been informed that your table will be ready in an hour and thirty minutes. You will be seated in the order of which you have arrived at the restaurant (standard wait time/we-don't-take-reservations shpiel). Please do not take it upon yourself to walk up to the front desk and pick up the chits that have been put there for the front desk runners. You do not work there. Do not touch anything that you're not supposed to. You are not a child, you do not need to be reminded of this.
And so, these are only a few concerns that I'm voicing. I don't want to get into the whole tipping is customary thing, or that the tip is normally around 18%. All the things I've said are common sense, and that any adult should realize they are. They are just things that bug the hell out of me. I'm not saying every guest that comes into the restaurant are stupid and don't have any common sense, only a small percentage of them are. But they still bug the shit out of me. Common sense, that's what's for dinner.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
...and we haven't gotten around to doing what we planned on doing. So many things.. so I thought I'd put them on a list lest I forget what they are.
Our plan this summer was to do the touristy things. I mean, we've lived in Chicago almost 6 years now, and we've only done a handful of touristy things. We've gone to the Field Museum (only like last year) and the Shedd Aquarium (excellent, must go again), we've ridden on the trolley all over the city, but we have not, believe it or not, gone up the Sears Tower or the John Hancock Tower (even though I work there)...yeah, I know. And it only costs like $10.
So, I'm thinking we're probably doing:
Lincoln Park Zoo..I have not been to a zoo in ages and generally I really don't like them, all those animals pacing in their cages, and I always imagine that they look sad (or bored).
The Adler Planetarium: I hear it's excellent. And you can't beat the location, right next to the lake. It's beautiful.
The Museum of Contemporary Art: There's a new showing that I want to see there, before it ends.
The Art Institute of Chicago: To visit The Thorne Rooms (or the miniature rooms, as I call it). THe new addition to the Art Institute (for contemporary art) will be a great success, I think.
Picnic on the beach: We've TWO picnic baskets which we've never used, I'd love to have a picnic before the summer ends.
The Observatories of the John Hancock Center and Sears Tower: You can see all the way to Michigan, I hear.
Take the architectural boat ride on Lake Michigan: And learn about the famous Chicago buildings!! As long as we don't pass under a bridge while a tour bus dumps their waste in the river :) Disgraceful.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
In this parallel world, England and Imperial Russia have fought the Crimean War for more than a century; England itself is a police state run by the Goliath Corporation (a powerful weapon-producing company with questionable morals); Wales is a separate, socialist nation; and literary questions (especially the question of Shakespearean authorship) are debated in the streets and are the subject of gang wars and murder. Single, thirty-something, Crimean War veteran and literary detective Thursday Next lives in London with her pet dodo, Pickwick. As the story begins, Thursday is called upon to investigate the theft of the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens.
As part of the investigation, Thursday is temporarily promoted to SpecOps-5 to help them apprehend their suspect, the third most wanted criminal in the world, Acheron Hades. Because he was one of her professors at university she is one of the few people that actually knows what he looks like. Using her prior knowledge of Hades she comes close to capturing him, but is badly injured in the attempt, and is saved only by a copy of Jane Eyre in her pocket that stops a bullet. Due to a strange blurring of the line between reality and fiction, Edward Rochester supports her until the paramedics arrive, leaving an embroidered handkerchief and jacket behind. This is not Next's first encounter with someone from within the novel: when she was a child she entered the book herself. During this strange flashback, she met the romantic lead of the novel, Rochester, just before he meets Jane. Thursday's appearance results in a minor change to the plot of the book that improves it slightly. In this parallel world, Jane Eyre has a different ending than in our world: Jane moves to India with her cousin, St. John Rivers, to become a missionary.
While recovering in the hospital, Thursday encounters her future self, who tells her, "Take the LiteraTec job in Swindon!" She therefore requests the apparently unexciting transfer to the office in her old home town. Back at home, she catches up with her mother Wednesday, her Uncle Mycroft (the name of Sherlock Holmes' older, smarter brother), and her Aunt Polly. Mycroft is an inventor of literary technology. He has created bookworms that eat the words of books, translating carbon-paper (you write something in English, and the copy is in any other language you wish, provided that you press hard enough), and most importantly, the Prose Portal. This device allows people to step into the pages of any work of literature. Next also renews an acquaintance with her former fiancé Landen Parke-Laine (a reference to the British version of the board game Monopoly).
Next learns that Hades has kidnapped Mycroft, Polly, and the Prose Portal in order to blackmail the literary world by changing their favorite novels. Any change in the original manuscript of a novel results in all copies of that novel being changed. In order to demonstrate the power of the Portal, Hades removes Mr. Quaverley, a minor character from the original manuscript of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit; when his demands are not met, he kills him -- altering the text of every copy of the novel. (In reality, there was never any such character in Martin Chuzzlewit.)
Next and a loathsome Goliath Corporation operative named Jack Schitt trace Hades to the Socialist Republic of Wales. They rescue Mycroft and the Prose Portal, but find that Polly has disappeared, and Hades has gone into the original text of Jane Eyre. Next decides to pursue Hades into the text, and after much trouble, she succeeds in catching him and finishing him off. In the process however Hades sets fire to Thornfield Hall, Rochester's manor, resulting in its destruction, the death of Rochester's first wife, Bertha, and Rochester being grievously injured. In the aftermath Rochester and Jane get married; accidentally, Next has changed the ending of the book.
Returning to her own world, Next uses the Prose Portal to release her Aunt Polly from a Wordsworth poem and to imprison Jack Schitt in the text of Poe's "The Raven". Next and Parke-Laine are reconciled and get married.
At the wedding, Thursday's father turns up. He is a renegade agent from SpecOps-12, the ChronoGuard (see Chronology protection conjecture). He temporarily stops time in order to dispense some fatherly advice to his daughter. The novel ends with Next facing an uncertain future at work: public reaction to the "new" ending for Jane Eyre is positive. The series continues with Lost in a Good Book.
*I literally lifted this off of Wikipedia!! :)