Sunday, January 20, 2008

What exactly *IS* the Irish hospitality??

Let me preface this with ... my day didn't start out so stunningly brilliant either. I screwed up at church and made a total buffoon of myself because I failed to check for the book on the ambo (lecturn), and because I never look in the missalette-so I didn't see that the new ones have a different, 2 column format. Yea, way to tick off a priest! Then we move on with the day...and get this story:

Being of Irish descent, I have a clue about Irish hospitality. Being raised in the south, I have a clue about Southern Hospitality. Having worked in a hotel, I have a clue about plain ole regular hospitality. It basically means you make a person comfortable. Silly me, I signed up for a birthday club and associated emails on occasion from some of my favorite restaurants. I grew up with birthdays pretty much sucking like a Hoover or sometimes even a Shop-Vac. Then as I moved into my mid-20s, I decided that I was going to give myself my birthday and do stuff for me. I use my birthday freebies and really do make several days of it. I don't need big parties or fanfare. I do thrive on recognition though. My younger sister calls this being an attention whore, and claims I get it from our mother. So, today is the day before my birthday. It's not like it's a major birthday where I hit a milestone. I'm just edging away from the younger side of a decade is all. My husband had to work, my son went to a youth event across town, and it left me and the little girl to have time together. Being the week of my birthday, we decided to go out to eat, and I thought "oh I'll use one of my birthday freebies". Well Sticky Fingers is farther away than I wanted to drive today, Moe's won't let you use it till the day OF your birthday (omitting my opinion for now), so Bennigan's it was. First clue should have been restaurant volume. There wasn't any. Second clue should have been when the server disclosed personal medical/mental health information to me. Third clue should have been that there was no sugar on the table for my hot tea. I know servers are busy, and my mistake could be that I didn't speak up as soon as I realized there wasn't sugar for my tea. I could have stopped the server as she walked past me to let her know I was ready to order or had a question. I didn't do that. I try to be patient because I am impatient, and she might have a train of thought that I shouldn't derail. Regardless, you don't ignore patrons. We were seated, and my child didn't want to give me a decision on what she wanted. I had to nail down a menu choice for her before I faced my own indecision. My child finally decided, and then opted to wait for her food till I ordered mine. A couple was seated on one side of us, so the server went to take their drink & appetizer orders while I decided. Then a family was seated on the other side of us. After spending an inordinate amount of time with the couple (who were sucking face every chance they got), the server proceeded to move to the family and get their orders. Then she went to the handy computer and started putting in the food orders she had already. She did not stop to check on me though. I had a couple quick questions that would have promptly gotten my order selected. I was contemplating the soup and salad or something else. Knowing what soup was available would've aided my choice. As I realized the server essentially abandoned me, I decided to leave. She caught me at the door and tried to recover the situation. She said something about getting it comped because of the timing. I said it wasn't the timing it was other things and I needed to leave. I know my temper enough that I must get out of the situation and compose my thoughts or I'll make things worse for myself. I told her if my daughter's food was in the works, then I'd pay for it and take it with me. Well that caused me to have to wait several more minutes. I would have rather paid for the food before getting it and just leaving as soon as I had the food in hand. Help me expedite my departure, PLEASE. It's bad enough you've left me hanging too long and ignored me once. Now you're just making it worse. I finally got the food and paid for it, and left no tip because the server did not take care of me. I never NOT tip because I know servers get paid less than minimum wage and their tips are supposed to make up the difference. I was so ticked, I felt she didn't rate a tip and still feel the same way several hours later. My daughter wanted to go to Cracker Barrel in the first place, and I should have listened to her. So we left and went where my daughter wanted to go, and I called my friend to vent because I didn't want to unleash the Feisty Irish Wench on some poor unsuspecting server who didn't deserve my wrath. I will unleash THAT wrath in a letter to the Bennigan's corporate office. I am not afraid of writing letters to companies if needed. I'm not 'letter happy' in similar regard to America in general being overly litigious. I am known for filing some "good cookies" with companies too because I now the value of getting those. I got them when I worked at the hotel on occasion and it was a big deal all around. I'm also known for writing letters when I'm not happy. One of my emails is now in every new hire's training package at one particular retail store. I do wait till I've cooled my jets to compose my letter, because I can get hot-headed and say unnecessary things. So my poor friend got the heated part of my rant, for which I'm very thankful. It was a short call because I was then at the Cracker Barrel. As we were taken to our seat, I noticed they had a fire going in the fireplace. That was just cool, because I'd never been there with a fire burning. The hostess seated us in the section in front of the fire, as close as we could get - 2nd row. I did tell the server that I just left Bennigans and was not happy, and gave a brief account of my crappy visit. I'd mentioned that we got there shortly after 4 and still hadn't gotten our orders. And it was shortly after 5. I had pancakes at 11. I have a high metabolism that borders on hypoglycemia. I have to eat every few hours. So this lovely lady (Amy T) brought some biscuits to the table to help hold us over till we could get our meals selected and ordered. I thought maybe she might have been a tad overly helpful to smooth my feathers, but no. This girl is like this all around. She took incredible care of all her patrons and did not ignore any of them. She apparently had some regulars and remembered what they liked to have (honey, special jam, sweet tea, etc). She soaked up my child's cute antics. I didn't tell her it was my birthday tomorrow. She still rescued my day and for that I will be absolutely grateful. I will be writing her a thank you card, and her manager will get a "good cookie" letter from me about her. I'll be writing a letter of a different kind to the Bennigan's corporate office and the local manager. I don't like O'Charley's because their service leaves a lot to be desired, but I might have even preferred going there instead. Bennigans....well someone is going to need some additional training on the theory and application of hospitality. I might suggest she go visit Amy over at the Cracker Barrel for some lessons.

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