Friday, April 8, 2011

Does Your Waiter Know Your Name?

How many times have you sat down at a table in a restaurant and the fresh faced waiter or waitress comes over and says …. “Hello, I am Tracy and I will be serving you tonight”? Often times, that is information that passes in one ear and out the other.  No eye contact by either the waiter or yourself.

On the other hand how do you feel when you walk into a place and to quote the old Cheers TV slogan … “Everyone knows your name?”

By the nature of our lifestyle and time of life, we eat out a lot. We gravitate back to favorite places time and time again. Often the food is very, very good. But most often, we frequent places where we are greeted by name or in a special place the waiter or bartender may inquire whether we would enjoy a specific beverage or appetizer, since they know our tastes and habits.

I am lucky in that I can remember names. And I try to use them whenever I can, whether it is here at the swim school or as I wander around town. But I can tell you that I make an effort when I meet new people especially in a social setting to repeat and use their name in our conversation or at minimum when we are finishing up and leaving. And, as I have embarrassed my spouse time and time again, if I have forgotten a name, I will ask them to repeat it again.

One great little trick is that in many restaurants, the final bill will include the server’s name. So as you read the bill, check out their name if you have forgotten it.

Why am I focused on this today? I read an article in the NY Times in which a woman reporter related an experience where due to the unique sounds her heart made, she was asked to have 18 Harvard medical students listen to her heart in order to hear this rare sound in a controlled environment. Her experience was discomforting because so few of the doctors engaged her in conversation, while performing the fairly intimate act of placing a stethoscope on her chest looking for the sound of her special heart sounds. Read more about her case here:

Returning to my original message relating to dining out, which is really about connecting with people, I can tell you we rarely return to restaurants or stores in which we are not acknowledged by name after a few visits. The food and even the service may be outstanding but without a little bit of personal connection, it is hard to keep me coming back.

So my point on this beautiful day is to reach outside your comfort level and connect with the people around you. In line at the grocery store. At the gas station. Or even at work or the kids’ school. Say hello and actually talk to that individual that you have been passing in the hallway or on the sidewalk or at a school event over all these years and months.

If you see me and introduce yourself, please do not be offended if 15 minutes later I ask you to repeat your information again. I really do want to know you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


What a great article, so so true! It wasn't so to long ago that my 6pm-4am shifts at the bar made me a living. I remember on most nights, my bar (as there was many bars within the one bar) and my tip jar was the fullest. It has nothing to do with how cold the beer was, I knew what my patrons wanted and always greeted them by name.

Now, I live in an internet world, but its the same dog and pony show as it was behind the bar.