Saturday, 30 October 2010


There used a be a Japanese restaurant in Paris to which people flocked - and, indeed, queued up outside (not a French hobby, believe me) - every night of the week.  Great food?  Cheap prices?  Nope, they went because the serving staff were famously rude to the customers.

I went there once, when I was living in the city in my twenties, thinking the time spent outside waiting to get in was a good investment towards what was going to be a memorably miserable evening.  However, I was to be sorely disappointed:  the waiters were perfectly polite, and couldn't do enough for us.

(It now occurs to me to have asked for my money back).

When I was a Music student (piano and comedy violin, since you ask), I worked for two evenings a week in a Wimpy Bar.  (It's a burger establishment, m'lud, a precursor to the American brands which flew over the Atlantic and virtually wiped out the indigenous terrible food). Friday and Saturday nights, there you'd find me in the Woodgrange Road in Forest Gate, East London, clocking on at 5.00pm, clocking off at any time around 1.00am (having first scrubbed the concrete floors out the back).  I earned 50p an hour and could eat a meal every time I worked there; as much as I wanted (though not the desserts:  the rum baba was particularly forbidden. Which was a bit rum. If not baba.) And so, starting out on my penurious journey through life (Arts and Media won't always feed ya) I learned quickly: double Wimpy (think Big Mac), double chips, double anything else I could pile on the plate (those were the only two nights a week I ate anything.  But hey, I was suffering for my art.) It was quite a good way to feed myself, in fact.

We could keep the tips, but had to share them between all the waiting staff. I was usually on with another girl, a very lazy specimen, who had worked out that she still got just as much money as I did even if she sat on her fat **** all night, so that's what she did.  But she missed out on a lot of fun...

...for that Wimpy Bar was where I first developed my bantering skills. The locals were cheeky, and I gave back as good as I got.  They loved me, and once a table of young people all contributed to a HUGE gratuity - it was pounds, not just the odd 10p most people were in the habit of leaving.  (Which obviously delighted Fatso).  At least they enjoyed the verbal sparring, if not the food.

Anyway, I relate this here because I feel it's an extremely important thing to give good service to customers, whether or not you are being paid a pittance for your time (and which employment is delaying the third act of your next opera), whether you find your job demeaning, or whether the boss is shagging your girlfriend.  (Better than you do).  It's not the fault of the customer, and it's in everyone's interest for these customers to come back.  One would think.

This is a post of three halves, Brian.  Next installment of appallingly bad service (though not to do with food) is on its way...


No. of halves so far:  2

No. of calories Thursdays and Fridays:  48,759

No. of calories Saturdays through Wednesdays:  - 63

No. of Supersized waitresses:  1 (and it wasn't me)

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Please be nice, but not funnier than me. Thanks.