Tuesday, June 04, 2013


My wife asked how it is that so many diner waitresses are “like that,” refering to the bantering style we had just encountered.  We had never been to this particular restaurant before. I knew what she meant without further explanation, and after a moment’s thought offered that it’s mutually selecting, and likely reinforcing.  If you go to a diner, as the bikers, boy scouts, and people after church we shared the place with had, you know at some level that such interactions are possible.  If you don’t like that, you learn not to go to diners, whether consciously or not. Food and time are not our only considerations, even though it is what we are focusing our thoughts on. 

I figure they don’t test waitresses for banter on interview, and certainly some are quiet types who simply take your order and serve you.  Yet if that’s your style, you learn at some level “maybe I’ll fit in there.”  The customers are seldom going to mind, and will often encourage that instant familiarity.  We all like to have places we belong, even at some cost in other considerations, such as pay and amount of work.

Some diner waitresses – I don’t recall see male waitstaff at any - express their exasperation and irritation too easily as well, telegraphing that you should not make things any worse by stressing them asking for more ketchup.  Yet I think that is a variant, not an opposite.  Like reality TV, festivals, and sporting events, emotions are on display here.  In contrast, upscale waitstaff and true fast-food counter help are expected to be increasingly invisible

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

Maybe they learn it. Maybe it's the long familiarity with the regular customers. (I did that with a number of my regular customers where I worked.) That can bleed over to the new customers, and then to first-timers, thinning as we go.