Today for lunch, my dad and I visited a chain restaurant. Not usually my first pick, but he had a coupon for a free entree, and they make a mean chicken wrap. As is often the case in this type of restaurant, a premium is placed on friendliness. Two waiters held the doors open for us, and we were greeted four (!!!) times before making it to our table. While this was a bit overwhelming, they meant well, and I assumed we'd be left alone to eat our meal in peace. Little did I know the worst was yet to come.
Our waiter Steve (not his real name) came over and offered the standard "Hi, I'm Steve, I'll be taking care of you today." Fine, normal, status quo. I've never particularly felt that such introductions were necessary, but no harm done. Then, instead of taking our order, Steve proceeds to bend down, look me in the eye, and engage in the following conversation:
Steve: What brings you in today?
Me: Um ...
Steve: Other than being hungry.
Me: Um ...
Steve: Are you out shopping? On your lunch break? What's going on?
At this point, my mind short-circuited. I was there to eat. Why wouldn't I be there to eat? It is a restaurant, isn't it? Why was I being interrogated? Will he hold my chicken wrap hostage until I provide a satisfactory answer?
Thankfully, my dad stepped in and gave ol' Steve a non-committal answer. Which, of course, Steve had to bring up repeatedly throughout the meal. A meal during which he interrupted us several times. Not with a quick "Everything ok?" but with prolonged chattering.
I'm not an unfriendly person. In fact, I often lament the rudeness that has become common lately. But Steve, while overtly "friendly", was not in the least sincere or considerate. Interrupting someone's conversation to cajole them into signing up for some stupid rewards program isn't my idea of friendly, no matter how much nodding and smiling accompanies it.
I tried to give Steve the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was the victim of some very bad corporate programming. Still, I think I detected a maniacal edge to his smile. It seemed that Steve enjoyed his role as waiter / new best friend / harasser a bit too much. Give me surly and flair-free (see clip below) any day.