Sometimes people talk too much.
Sometimes I talk too much.
Keeping quiet is not easy for The Gal. I like to chat. I like to interact. I like to keep my foyer crowd-free, and talking to customers is the only way I know to keep ’em moving toward a table and a full tummy.
Giving the silent treatment to a difficult patron…intriguing. But I wasn’t sure.
Then, over the past few days, I learned how to combine silence with The Look, and voila!
Two women approach the podium. One holds up her hand and waves two fingers in the air. She says nothing. I say nothing, but I make eye contact with her. I can barely contain myself. But I don’t say a word.
Instead, I give this customer The Look.
The Look says, “I see you waving your hand. I see you probably mean you are a party of two. But, generally, it is customary to speak to a person from whom you need service, and I’m waiting for you to do just that. Take all the time you need.”
It only took her two full seconds (I counted to myself, “One one thousand…”) before she spoke up: “Table for two, please.”
Please? Hmm. Did The Look prompt politeness as well as a verbal cue?
A party of six arrives. One mentions they have reservations. The name is not in the book. I try to trace it through the computer system. Nothing shows up. We go back and forth on this.
Finally, I say, “I am sorry. I just don’t have that reservation, but we can likely have a table for you in less than five minutes.”
“I know I made the reservation!” exclaims the customer.
I smile, and say nothing, but my eye-to-eye exchange with this customer conveys The Look. This Look says, “We both know you don’t have a reservation and you are trying to save face with your group. I will get you a table very soon, but let’s drop the charade about a reservation.”
“At least my assistant said she made the reservation.” I keep smiling at this customer, staying silent.
“I mean, well, you will have a table for us soon, you said?”
I continue smiling, and reply, “I’m sure it won’t be longer than a couple of minutes.”
“Okay, well, thanks. That works.”
Two older gentlemen arrive. “Table. There,” one gestures, pointing to a booth and walking toward it. “Folks,” I smile, “If you can wait just a moment while I check these other customers in, I’ll seat you right away.”
They stop, turn around. The chatty one sneers, “Oh, you’ll seat me right away? Seat me, huh? I’d like to seat you myself, right away.” The connotation is obvious.
I don’t need to force myself to be silent because I am rendered speechless, as is everyone else standing in the foyer.
I direct the other customers to walk with one of the hosts to a table. I slowly turn toward the offensive old man, giving him a very definite, silent Look. This renders him speechless.
Menus in hand, I say nothing to them as I walk them toward their table. Their pathetic rear ends have only just slid into the booth, before I slap down the menus in front of them. I begin clearing the extra settings, again, without saying a word. I am none too gentle with the silverware as I do so.
This exchange is totally against company policy. We’re always supposed to hand menus to customers–oh, and be friendly.
Yes, the dirty old man gets it that I am just a tad offended by his remark.
“Oh, well, now thank you ma’am. This is just fine. Appreciate it.”
Too little too late, pal. I give him one more, very long and soundless Look. He can’t make eye contact with me.
I have more than made my point.
The Look, coupled with the sound of silence.