Wednesday, June 15, 2005

T.I.P.S. 101** Service is a Verb

Service Is A Verb
By Gil C. Schmidt

We love verbs. They act. They do. They have all the fun! But “fun” is a noun. Is that a problem? Not at all, for you can’t “have fun” without the “having”! Yay for verbs!

Climbing down from my cheerleading ladder, I pause to point out that “service” is like “fun”: You need to do something for it to happen. If you think I’m still dizzy from cheering, imagine what level of service you would receive if the person “serving” you did nothing?


Now most people won’t be able to get away with doing nothing and calling it “service” for very long (unless they work for the government.) However, many people try to get away with doing as little as possible for as long as possible in order to draw a paycheck. These are the same people who complain bitterly about other people’s “luck” (hard work), “breaks” (being prepared for the opportunity) and “connections” (hard workers get noticed.)

I went to a restaurant recently and was treated to a “nothing plus 1%” effort that made me want to strangle a palm tree. (Reduces aggression and maybe the tree likes it.) Our drink order was served wrong, incomplete and the three additional requests were botched. The salads were brought out after minutes of languishing in a warm, humid terrace, so we ate “wilted” greens. Our food order was served incorrectly and I settled for overcooked fish rather than chance another dish. Two of our four-person group was never offered dessert and as soon as dessert was served, our waitress disappeared for 45 minutes. Forget coffee.

As I stepped out to ask for the check and was mentally calculating reducing the bill 15%, I overheard the woman complaining that her friend—a former waitress at the same restaurant—was now Assistant Manager at another restaurant. When the other person pointed out that she was “a great waitress,” our bastion of just-enough-action protested that she too was a great waitress.

Oh, what a moment. “No, you’re not,” I said and I’m glad she was too far away to kick me. I’m used to anger, but this was fury. I then listed everything she had missed, and fury became rage, then melted away. She knew I was right. And telling her what she already knew was depressing to me as well.

We left no tip. It wasn’t punishment, for tips are earned, not obligated. But I can’t help but feel that I’ll hold onto the lesson of acting as the basis of service far longer than this waitress will. Learning is a verb, too.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home