Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Is Everything Excellent?"

By Cassandra D

Bah humbug! That little phrase, "Is everything excellent?", usually uttered by waitstaff bearing smiles that dare you to say otherwise, is enough to raise my hackles and ruin a good dinner.

What is it with restaurants these days? Are their employees suffering from such low self-esteem that management wants them to get nice affirmations all day? "Uh...sure." In our (superficially, anyway) polite society, it takes a lot of guts to make waves and say, "No. Everything is pretty good, but not excellent."

Do restauranteurs really believe that if they get us to agree that "everything is excellent" we will actually believe it to be true? Are they just tired of getting honest answers to, "How is everything?"

I find the "Is everything excellent?" question so annoying that I don't go to restaurants that ask it. They make rude people out of those who don't cheerfully agree with them, and I don't want to go anywhere that tries to coerce compliments from me.


At 8:50 AM, Blogger Okiedoke said...

Goes to show what kind of restaurants I patronize; I only get asked "Is everything alright?"

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Brit said...

As a former service industry employee, I can tell you that while we are supposed to ask our guests if everything is okay, I was never given precise wording on how to form the question. And, when I asked "is everything was alright," I wanted an honest answer, because happy customers are good tippers, and when they see that you are making a genuine effort to right a wrong, they are also good tippers.

Nothing annoyed me more than when customers would say yes, everything is alright to my face, then complain to the manager or the door staff or on the comment card that they had a problem with their meal or the service.

I think perhaps you're reading a bit too much into this.

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite question is "Is everything perfect?" Nothing makes me more apt to hurl butterknives at the waiter than that.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous turtleboi said...

Neither have I heard the "Is everything excellent?" question. Are you sure it's actually new restaurant policy and not just the latest phraseology of the young and hip amongst service indusrty waitstaff?

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Dr. Pants said...

I just hate when the waiter or waitress tells me they'll be "taking care of me today."

Did Joey Gumballs or Antonio "Wobble Wobble" Gobliotti send you to kill me? Are you my mom and I am sick? Then you're not taking care of me. You're just taking my order and bringing my food.

I used to be in food service and I guess I always figured my job was to get people food, be polite and get out of the way. Don't put your elbows on the table. Don't try to be their friend. I would tip more if someone would leave me alone and just make sure I don't need a refill on my water.

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe that question is just Gen Y code-phrasing for "You're old and cranky, and I want a tip, please don't beat me about the head and shoulders if your Diet Coke has lost the fizz."

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous turtleboi said...

Gosh, this is a fun topic. As someone who was also in food service and now always tips big unless the waitperson is obviously rude or apathetic, there is one thing that dices my chives, and that's SITTING DOWN IN MY BOOTH WHILE YOU TAKE MY ORDER. I appreciate that you've been on your feet all day and that some may find it extra friendly or "folksy" but, much like everything George Bush does to achive that effect, it puts me right off. You're a professional, quit trying to "hang" with me and just DO YOUR JOB.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

Ah, yes, Anonymous #1. I, too, have been the victim of "Is everything perfect?" not once but twice at a certain trendy Oklahoma City restaurant on the lake, also noted for their silly salute to the sunset. And just what is perfect, anyway?

I have suspected that the question was a directive from management because I have been asked it on different occasions at the same restaurant. I give a place a waiver for one offense; they get scratched from my list after two. So far, two restaurants have been black-listed and one is on the bubble.

Maybe it isn't a plot and just reflects trendy Gen Y'ers at the same restaurant jumping on the excellent/perfect bandwagon. Who knows?

All this just goes to say that Mr. D and I eat out WAY TOO MUCH!

At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've had a server say that to me before, but when my mouth was full so i could not respond (ah, their timing gift!). it's as if they knew that i would call them out on the term "excellent." i think it's rude since they presume to be "exellent." i wouldn't call the waiter/ess out rudely, just state that excellent is a bit much. even more so considering that this was a "greasy spoon" type of place.... just my two cents.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really baffled here. Is this really a serious issue? Are we that critical of other people and that desperate to find fault?

Most waiters really do want to know if everything is good and if you're enjoying your meal. Otherwise, how can they make it right?

It's more than tipping. Unhappy customers don't come back.

I really find it amazing that people get so hung up on words and resent questions asked in good faith. Why would anyone get bent about a waiter saying "I'll be taking care of you?" How cranky are we?

For crying out loud, people in food service are trying to make a living and do it by waiting on people who are looking to find fault with them over trivia.

Maybe we need to cut other people a little more slack. Kindness starts with our own attitudes.

At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Take a Joke, Mister said...

Um.... does the anonymous above have a sense of humor? or was it swallowed up by the giant in his asshole?

At 10:57 PM, Anonymous flamewhore said...

When someone asks if everything is excellent it comes across as fake coporate crap. I placed a take out order tonight and was amused by all the stuff the waitress had to say before I could give her my order. It was something like: "It's a great day at one more artery-clogging food box on Memorial road this is Flo how can I fatten you up?" At least when you eat at a local spot you can see real waiters and not the Stepford drones who are out of school for the summer. Man, what a thought-provoking post.

At 12:22 AM, Blogger Larry Mondello said...

Excellent post, Cass

At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Red Dirt said...

Red Dirt must beat the peak oil drum once again by saying, "Get in touch with the local economy, ditch the chain restaurants whenever possible." Bunny's Onion Burgers will clog your arteries, too. But betcha you'll never hear the "excellent" question around there.

At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To "take a joke": thank you for proving my point. Some of these posts are obviously tongue in cheek, some are not. At any rate, you went of your way to be rude and vulgar. Goes to my point about people being cranky.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

To the anti-cranky anonymous, I have to say that I agree that civility and politeness are important, and I know from slogging it out at the OU football concessions stands during a losing season that no matter what you do you can never make all the customers happy.

I am polite and I tip well, but I will own up to the flaw (I only have one, you know) in my character: I still get REALLY irritated! So even though I choke out a "Yes, thanks," while feeling like a liar, when I am asked if everything is excellent, I don't enjoy feeling forced to compromise my integrity in order to be polite. So I don't want to go back to the offending locations.

And I vent my irritation on a blog!
I AM cranky! I admit it!!!

I would suspect that the other irritated blog-responders are also polite to their waiters.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Dr. Pants said...

Of course we are. We tip like crazy, too, because we know. WE KNOW. The job sucks and they're just trying to live and all that.

But even when you're nice, it can still get on one's nerves. At least we're just bitching online on a Web site where no self-respecting young person would come and not just taking off our belts in the restaurant, wrapping it around our server's neck and screaming, "Would you like some air with that? Huh? Bring me breadsticks and shut up, you goateed stain on humanity!"

Whew. Yeah. And Jesus lives in all our hearts.


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