C.Joad2016: Dined at Rex the other night. Wonderful food—cheeses personally selected by the Rex owners in Paris only two days before our meal, and an exquisite poulet main with a fancy French name—but what stood out was the service. It wasn’t just the shine on the silverware and the attentive refilling of our wineglasses during the meal. It was the way the waiter, who ate at the table with us, saved the rest of us from a fellow diner’s long-winded story (something about being trapped in the middle of a street performance during which he was forced to “roar like a lion”) in a way that was so subtle that the rambling raconteur didn’t even notice. It was an old ‘gambit’, updated and made part of what might just be a new category of gamesmanship—‘Restaurantmanship’—and here’s how he pulled it off:
While other diners at the table stifled back yawns our storyteller, inflamed by PTSD, began to itemize every tedious detail of his “torment and distress”, pausing only occasionally and only long enough to re-fuel himself with another gulp of wine. And then I noticed it… the Rex waiter, whenever the customer started to put down his glass, would tactfully slip a coaster under it. The inference—that the customer was showing a woeful lack of respect for the hand-polished teak of Rex’s tabletop—was subtle but effective. The customer was thrown off, a little at first and then more so each time the coaster was attentively placed beneath his wineglass, and eventually our storyteller completely lost his train of thought and feebly asked when the Senators were next playing.
Such a relief, and I intended to leave a nice tip. Waitress forgot to bring bill, though, so what can you do.