Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Do not speak to me like that, young man

Last Friday evening, I took a GF out for a belated birthday celebration. She chose Marben, a first visit for me, a return for her. When I entered at around 8 pm., the place was nearly empty, with a half-dozen suits clustered at the bar and one table of diners.

Though I had reserved, the host led me to the worst table by far, a two-top butted into the wait station. "We're a little jammed tonight", he said, "is this all right?" I said firmly, "I don't want to be here", and was then offered a choice banquette.


She arrived late, burst into tears (stress- a move and reno from hell), polished off a glass of red, and we settled in for a companionable evening. Good food, proficient service. At my rejected table, a young couple made first-date conversation.

I suspect the Table of Doom is given to non-regulars, or those so "over-served" during cocktail hour that that they can ignore their perch on top of the dish bins.

As we were leaving, the host, chatting with his mates near the door, asked, "Have a happy birthday, dear?" So here's the deal, so-hip Marben: If I catch even a whiff of condescension, in any establishment, I am never coming back. Your form of address, coupled with your seating strategy ensures that "dear" dines elsewhere.

11 comments:

Patricia said...

I so agree about the use of 'dear' and other diminuatives, especially when used by someone younger than me! Patricia

Duchesse said...

patricia: Your comment made me realize that the fake and presumptive endearments annoy me now more than they did 30 years ago, thanks!

Deja Pseu said...

There was an article about this in the NY Times just yesterday,

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/07/us/07aging.html?em

(Though we're not exactly "elderly" the sentiments still apply.)

WendyB said...

I thought of that Times article too!

bonnie-ann black said...

i have always had a sharp attitude and dislike condecension in any form. i'd rather have someone think "what a bad tempered old lady" than be ignored or treated like a child. i refuse to be invisible.

materfamilias said...

And the sad thing is, the restaurant will never know it lost business because of one young man's limited perceptions and/or ill-chosen words.

Had to laugh yesterday when discussing a poem with my class and realized that the couple they saw therein as an elderly couple was quite close to the one that I saw as 30s or 40s-ish. No contradiction in their minds at all. At 55 I could laugh about it, but I think the two female mature students in my class (both 30-40's-ish) were disconcerted! Some of them see any of us over 40 as potential "dears"!!

Duchesse said...

Pseu: Whoa, two people are 61 in that Times piece on the elderly. Did like that comment from one "elderly' woman about using profanity. After all those years of urging my sons to watch the l-a-n-g-u-a-g-e I can now let loose? Effin'-A!

~TessaScoffs said...

I have a similar pet peeve. I hate to be called a "guy." As in, "Hi, guys;" or "How're doing, guys." Even men in wigs and lipstick are called "girls" or "ladies."

Julianne said...

I haven't experience the sweetie and dear thing yet, but when I get a whiff of a server being condescending, they get NO tip. I don't care if it's wrong. They have ruined my meal. Who do they think they are? They are servers. There to serve the paying patron their meal. Ok, I feel better now :-).

Duchesse said...

tessa: I don't like it either but it strikes me as sloppy rather than condescending. I also find being called "miss" annoying and wish service people would not use it on anyone over 22 or so.

Julianne: I've been called "dear" since my late 30s and am liking it less as each decade rolls by!

Anjela said...

I tend to stay away from all those tags Miss, Madam, Dear, Dear Friend.
I got an email the other day with a typo 'Dear Fiend' I thought how appropriate. What an apt typo.

I generally call the business and let them know. The servers are more a reflection (positive or negative) on the owner and on how they want their 'clients' to be (mis)treated. One wonders too if the owner is some gobeen who has no sense of culture- no class- no idea that his/her servers are projecting a horrible face on his/her establishment.
In some cases if that is so, calling makes no difference at all.
I think we change this by how we raise our own children and basic manners aka respect. Which isn't always valued. I think it is all BAD manners- Parents who don't teach their children how to be. If they don't know they assume some trite words thrown into the arena are okay. Is there a portal in the brain that after a certain age closes to manners and culture- like language has a time frame or bonding-
I think where they first placed you set the tone for the evening.