Being a hostess at a restaurant isn’t that bad. It really isn’t. But there are certain people that make the job really, almost intoxicatingly, hard. Not even hard, really. Just painful.
It was a Monday. Normally Monday’s are what us restaurant-folks call “dead” days, but there was a big football game on with the kind of surround sound that pulsed through your chest, and the rush started to come. I got assigned to be hostess for the night, so I took my stance at the stand and waited.
The first couple came in. They were average looking. I can’t say I remember anything about them besides that they were average. Kind of fat, maybe a little short. And that’s when the pain began.
“Would you like to sit in the dining room or the high top tables tonight?” I smiled at them.
The wife looked at her husband and bit her lip, looking from the dining room to the bar and back to the dining room again. She then looked at her husband, waiting for him to decide.
As they stood in silence, looking around the restaurant like a couple of lost sheep, the front door opened and a family came in. A party of four.
At this point, the woman realized she needed to hurry up and make a decision, so she looked at me and said, “We don’t care.”
She shrugged her shoulders and he raised his eyebrows a bit.
I love people that are versatile. “Okay, then! The high top tables are open seating, so go on back and help yourself!”
She got this horrified look on her face as if I had just drowned a newborn baby and thrown it off a cliff. “We don’t want to sit up there,” she said.
The temptation to say, “Oh, so you do care? Alrighty then,” was heart-throbbingly strong. But I didn’t say it.
I smiled at her like she didn’t just do the most ridiculous thing ever and took her to a table in the dining room.
The couple was out of my way at this point, so my annoyance level dropped back down to normal.
I made my way back up to the host stand to greet the party of four that came in.
“Hi, guys,” I welcomed them.
The mother stared at me with both hands holding her purse and her lips tightened. They did not even acknowledge that I had spoken.
“Would you like to sit in the dining room or the high top tables tonight?” I said my line.
“High top tables! High top tables!” the little boy tugged on his mother’s hand.
“High top tables, I guess,” the mother answered me.
“Okay, then, it’s all open seating back there so just help yourself,” I motioned to the back of the restaurant.
“We don’t want to sit up there,” she grimaced at me.
You’re kidding. Two in a row? I ought to start a tally.
You know what? I will.
I ended up sitting them at a table which they complained about and then insisted that they get moved to a booth.
I made my way back to the stand and started a chart in the corner of the glass. Two tallies.
It was couple after couple, family after family, the occasional lone guy that headed for the bar without even looking at me… but I swear to you, in an hour’s time, I had eleven tallies at the stand. I probably greeted twenty or twenty five parties. That means that about fifty percent of Monday restaurant goers are completely and utterly… I hate to say stupid—or ridiculous or dumb… they’re utterly ill-advised. I don’t even really like that either. It’s too nice. They’re just rude.
Anyways, after an hour passed and my annoyance level was through the roof, I decided to expand my research trial. I started counting the seconds it took between my line—Would you like to sit in the dining room or the high-top tables tonight?—and their “I don’t care but I really do care” response. The numbers were astounding. The next hour wasn’t as busy, and I only got four tallies down, but I kid you not-- each time, it took them eight seconds to say it, except for one couple. They took twenty-three seconds. And these were serious seconds. I did the whole “one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi” thing. And couple number twenty-three was especially entertaining, because a server was stuck behind them trying to get through and by the ten second mark, a woman with a screaming baby in her arms was stuck behind the server trying to get to the bathroom, and by second twenty or so, a family was stuck behind the screaming mother stuck behind the server trying to go home.
Now, eight seconds might not seem like a long time to you, but sit back in your chair right now, close your eyes, and count to eight. Seriously, do it.
That is way too long. You either know where you want to sit or you don’t. And in this case, it’s even worse, because these people take eight seconds to give a crap answer like “I don’t care” and then freak out when I make the decision for them.
People. These. Days.
I don’t care if my results are legitimate or not. Maybe it was just a grumpy Monday crowd.
But, next Monday, I’m doing it again-- Tally Trial #2-- and this time I will be thoroughly prepared. Hypothesis and all. Finally, a chance to use the scientific method in real life.