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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hello, My Name is.... Why Bother?

Since the subject was broached in a previous blog post that had something to do with an anonymous red-headed d-bag who I will not give anymore attention to because he does not need my help to gain more traffic, I want to discuss something further: servers who announce their names to their tables.

Some restaurants require the old "Hello, my name is Ashley and I will be your server tonight" routine. I have worked at those places and I hated it. My name is not one that is easily recognized so it was always way more trouble than it was worth.

 "Hello, my name is Coby and I'll be your server tonight."

"Oh, hello, Cody."

"No, Coby."

"Oh, Colby! Like the cheese?"

"No, Coby, like the beef but with a C and a Y. Coby. "Like the electronics company?"

"Oh, Coby! That's an interesting name. Were your parents hippies?"

"Never mind. Hello, my name is David and I will be your server tonight."

I was never a big fan of having to give out my name. (No, Coby is not my real name...) I have found that when you tell customers what your name is, many of them get too comfortable using it and they start asking for too much shit.  Thankfully, I never worked at one of those places that puts paper on the tables with crayons for the children and some of the servers write their name onto the table. Once I went to a place where the waitress wrote her name in cursive upside down so that it was facing me. Color me impressed but I still wouldn't want to have to do it. So, no I don't give out my name unless asked.

Since I work at a very small neighborhood restaurant two blocks from my home with mostly regulars, several of my customers do know my name. I suppose I don't mind it too much since I bump into them at the grocery and I'd rather they say hello to me by name than say "Hello, Asshole." But I only tell people when they ask. They always follow it up with their names which I promptly delete from my memory bank. If I remember the names of all of my customers how will I ever remember that episode #109 of The Facts of Life is the one that aired on October 3, 1984 and was called "Slices of Life" and it was the one where Jo began her own pizza making company? Click here to see that episode and go to the 1:40 mark to hear my favorite line delivery in the history of the world.

One regular that comes in thinks my name is Eugene. It is not. It is nowhere close to Eugene. I once played a Eugene in a high school play about Halloween, but that is where my connection with Eugene ends. I have told her my real name many times and she always tells me that I look just like Gene Wilder. Never mind that Gene Wilder is about 40 years older than me, she thinks I am the splitting image of the Candy Man. The next time she came in she had forgotten my name and called me Gene instead. I corrected her. I saw her once outside a bar in our neighborhood and she yelled out to me across the street, "Hello, Gene." I corrected her again. I saw her yet again at another bar and this time she called me Eugene. I imagine that her train of thought went something like this: 
"Oh, what is his name again, I know I know it. He looks like Gene Wilder but I know his name isn't Gene. Is it Willy Wonka? No, that's not right. Maybe it's Dr. Frankenstein... Gosh, I dunno. I got it!"

"Hello, Eugene!"

I corrected her yet again. She came into the restaurant last week and greeted us all. She didn't say my name and I thought that least she isn't calling me Eugene. When she left, she gave me a hug and kiss (she'd had three glasses of wine) and slurred out, "S'wonderful to see you again, Eugene." I am done correcting her. I don't care. I don't know her name even though she has told it to me often. The difference is that I don't just make up shit when I see her:

"Dionne Warwick, it's nice to see you!  How have you been, Diana Ross? Well listen, Angela Basset, the next time you come in you make sure to sit in my station, okay, Oprah?"

I agree with most people that customers don't care about the names of their servers and servers don't want to give out their names, so can we just make a pact across the land that we will no longer do it? Let's be done with it. Let's accept our situation for what it is: a business transaction that will last for about 45 minutes or so. It should be just like a prostitute and her john; no names, no pleasantries and no emotions. We give each other what we want, and move on. As long as I give good service and I am given a 20% tip and not given crabs, I'm good.

"Hello, my name is none of your fucking business and I will be your server tonight."

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Jimmy Tunstall said...

Haha...thanks for making my day! :)

Stephanie said...

I worked at a place that required me to say my name three times to every table. Most of the time people didn't pay attention, but some (usually over-friendly older men) did and would repeatedly use my name and would often shorten it. It just made me uncomfortable. I also don't care that your granddaughter has the same name but spelled differently. Here, have some bread.

Anna Burke said...

I never tell people or wear a name tag they dont pronounce it correctly and are annoying about it when I'm busy.

Shannon said...

We're supposed to say our names where I work, but I don't unless a customer asks me or my manager is standing nearby. You're right, Bitchy, some people get way too comfortable. I've even had people yell my name while I'm at another table. Irritating.

Superb post, as always :)

J.B. said...

Ugh, we have to do the whole, "my name is so-and-so and ill be taking care of you" I would usually say it after I took their orders "my name is so-and-so if you need anything" just because I can't stand being called "Miss" or "Ma'am"....but it usually goes in one ear and out the other. Anyways, I wouldn't do that whole schpiel that my restaurant requires us to do, but we get those lame ass secret shoppers and have to follow all these steps for every single table...fuck secret shoppers.

H.N. McWilliams said...

J.B., yeah, fuck secret shoppers! That's why we have to state our names at the place I work. And Jesus Christ, if I hear one more fucking person scream my name and or tap my shoulder/wave their hand at me while I'm talking to another table, I'm gonna lose my shit and put the fear of god in them sight unseen. I'm gonna tell them all that my name is hairy-Larry so that's the name that the secret shopper would report instead of my own! Fuckers.

J.B. said...

Lol seriously!!! Anyway, aren't secret shoppers like, unemployed ppl that have nothing better to do? They aren't even affliated with the industry...I see ads on Craigslist for them all the time... And I had someone just yesterday come up to me calling my name while I was taking another table's order!!! So rude.

Anonymous said...

I always someone is going to be a pain in the ass/weirdo/overly friendly/controlling guest if the very first thing they do is ask me my name when I walk up to the table. As in, interrupting or following up my greeting by saying "first off, what's YOUR name?". It never fails...and that goes double if they then proceed to introduce themselves. After that, it's just awkward. ~Serenity

Anonymous said...

As a diner I'm not interested in your name. I have no need for it. If I need something I will politely get your attention when you glance in my direction, or will wait until you check on my table. It's sad that people think that once they know your name they have the license to be familiar and rude.

Degreed Waitress said...

My old restaurant required us to say our names to every customer, thanks to those lovely secret shoppers. It had some upsides though. If your name was mentioned in the secret shopper's report, you got like ten bucks. And since the report came within a few days of the shop, we could all slack off for the rest of the month.

The downside was the creepy old guys hitting on me and telling lame jokes...
"If y'all need anything, my name is [ my name ]."
"Well, what if I don't need anything? Is your name still [ my name ]?"

JoeinVegas said...

Whenever I'm asked for my name at places I always say something simple like Joe or Bob or Tom, since they don't really care it doesn't matter, and I don't have to explain how to pronounce it, I just have to remember what I said in case called.
Use the manager's first name if it's simple, that way complaints would get credited to him.

Noelle said...

3 times Stephanie that is obnoxious. If it's done at all I say after the order is taken.

Anonymous said...

Luckily for me, I work at an independently owned establishment, so I am not required to go through any particular "song and dance" with my custiners. Also, I have been working there for 12 years, so pretty much everyone knows who I am. I actually get rather annoyed when customers ask for my name because a) I have been here forever, how in the fuck can you not already know my name, and b) I am quite sure that when the host sat you he proclaimed that "very irritable waitress" (aka, me) will be serving you this evening. So for the love of God get the shit out of your ears!

Anonymous said...

may I please edit my previous comment, I meant "customers". After a particularly annoying shif t this evening, I may have over-indulged in cabernet :)

... said...

We have favorite waiters at a few local places and we do ask for them when we come in. They chat with us, we tip them well (probably why they chat with me, huh?), it's nice. I do know their names but would NEVER shout for them across a restaurant or assume that they want to do me special favors. Even if they're total strangers, that's just rude. Really? Do people DO that? Wait, I'm sure they do. I've seen the trolls on the Dr. Phil episodes... :/

FU SecretShop said...

Because I work at an Orwellian Ministry of Food Service establishment (I have no doubt they employee trolls to find their TM words online), I have to be super-anonymous. I have several steps I have to complete before i leave the table for the FIRST TIME! I have to say my name, offer two specific alcoholic bevs, one specific app, and ask them if they are ready to order their entree. All during the first greet. We have 15 page secret shopper reports and we recieve 7 PER MONTH, EVERY MONTH. A score of less that 90% gets you demoted, suspended, or fired. It's lovely.

Bitter. Party of 1 said...

I've worn a name-tag at some places and customers have still asked me for my name.

KC said...

There's a guy I work with on the weekends whose name is Doug. There's an elderly man that comes in and always calls him Bruce. So every time this elderly guy comes in, we ALL call Doug, Bruce.

Anonymous said...

I live in a very small southern town and we have a very close-minded, mostly white clientele. I have a very, very ethnic name (not that I mind, it is very beautiful, I think), and I'm a pasty white girl. When I tell guests my name, they honestly cannot wrap their minds around it, some look like their heads just might explode and ask stupid shit like, "Where did your parents come of with that!?!?", "Well, then, what are you exactly?" I barely even bother anymore, they just try to shout it out when they need something and end up totally fucking up the pronunciation. Or want to try to friend me on Facebook, which is just fucking weird.

Anonymous said...

Guess who works at that restaurant where you write your name upside down on the table? This chick. And guess what this chick's name is? HANNAH. Aaaaaand guess how many of my tables answer my offer for a wine sample by pointing out that my name is a, "oh what do you call it?" (answer: palindrome)/can be spelled the same forward and backward/can almost be spelled the same right side up and upside down? Probably 75% of my tables. No joke. Most annoying thing ever.

Anonymous said...

Yea...where I live the customers seem lost if they don't know our names. They ask our names about 5 times even if we have name tags on. Next time they come in they get all excited, "Oh you were our server last time!" "Really? I don't remember you," an hour later, "Oh yeah, you're the bitches that don't tip."

Fun times. Fun times.

Anonymous said...

When someone tries to get my attention while I am at another table I ignore for as long as I can. Then I loudly apologize to the table I am with for the interruption. Smile sweetly and say "can I help you?" To the interrupter.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why but this never annoyed me, having to give my name. It felt natural to introduce myself. The only thing I hated were the name abusers, who'd shout at me from across the room while I was with another table.

The restaurant was in the South, which depending on the area it's considered rude to not introduce yourself (I actually didn't get tipped once, allegedly because I forgot to tell them my about looking for any excuse).

One time a verrrrrry old woman left me a ridiculous tip (it was close to 100% on a %40+ tip, and I'd done nothing particularly extraordinary) simply because my name was the same as her late husband's. That made up for all the name-shouters.

Well. Most of them.

Anonymous said...

Lol I just became a waitress. And never knew it was that big of a deal. When I was being trained one of the waitresses introduced herself and me every time an the customers don't even care. I never bother to tell them my name, they simply don't care. And I hate over friendliness I just want to bring you your food and supply good service nothing more and nothing less.

Anonymous said...

Lol I just became a waitress. And never knew it was that big of a deal. When I was being trained one of the waitresses introduced herself and me every time an the customers don't even care. I never bother to tell them my name, they simply don't care. And I hate over friendliness I just want to bring you your food and supply good service nothing more and nothing less.

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