Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Have you got nothing else to fret about?

Manuel's ring of fire...

I came across this tirade against waiters via "Google Alerts". It didn't refer to bad service. It didn't refer to lazy waiters nor did it chastise rude waiters. Or even Smelly waiters, incompetent waiters, slack jawed arse scratching nose picking waiters. No this piece was about that most heinous of crimes when the waiter refers to the customer as "You Guys".

From THE BUSINESS LEDGER (The Business Newspaper for Suburban Chicago)

Can We Be Something Other Than "You Guys"?

I’m not big on formalities, but why is it that virtually every waiter and waitress in virtually every restaurant one enters these days addresses customer diners as “guys?”

Offensive and insulting? Not necessarily, but I wonder why they can’t come up with a different appellation just for the sake of variety or, for that matter, to exhibit a modicum of upgraded sensitivity for those who may dislike the term, or perhaps are just tired of it.

Or maybe I should blame the training programs these people undergo. If the trainer thinks that all customers like to be called guys, then naturally the students will continue this irritating and boring new tradition foisted on men, women, boys and girls, with ages and races notwithstanding.

Further, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a hot dog stand, a national restaurant franchise or a pricey establishment, you and your party are guys.

I don’t mind a bit if a clubhouse waitress says “What would you guys like?” after 18 holes with my partners, but I do squirm when my wife and I are called guys as we prepare to spend $150 on a nice bottle of Merlot and a couple of steaks.

A few weeks ago I almost said to a smiling, guy-repeating waiter, “Look, friend, I may look like a dock worker, you know, just like one of the guys, but my wife looks and is dressed very much like a lady.”

Here’s exactly what my wife and I heard at one of the more upscale chain restaurant franchises just recently: “Good evening, you guys, and welcome. Is there any particular place you guys would like to sit? I’ll give you guys the menus and your server will be here shortly. You guys enjoy your meal.”

I began to think that maybe this man’s mother, father, wife, sisters, brothers, children, friends and job boss must all be named Guy.

Just as we guys took a sip of our water, the waiter, an otherwise friendly, efficient chap, appeared at our table to ask, “I’m Paul, your server. Can I get you guys something to drink?”

My wife said we were called guys at least ten times between the time we entered the place and finished dinner. I accused her of a vast undercount and helped prove my point when, while I was paying the check, Paul said, “Thanks and you guys have a great evening.”

I wanted to fill out a comment card suggesting they change the name of the place to the You Guys Inn. At least the title would add promotional connection to the constant guying, just like at the old downtown Chicago restaurant where everyone was greeted with “Hello, Senator.” At least that made you feel kind of special.

One of these evenings I plan to look at the waitress’s name badge and before she has a chance to say a word, I will burst out with: “Ah, I see your name is Tina. Well, Tina, my name is Mike, this is my wife Kathy and these are our friends Mary Ann and Ed. Please remember that if you dare refer to us as guys, I will tell the large party at the next table that the shrimp bisque is a swimming pool for a family of ants.”

There is a simpler solution, of course, so listen up, restaurant owners and waiters wherever you are. Revise questions just to say, “Good evening, folks,” or “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen,” if you really want to restore some old world class.

Better yet, don’t use personal terms at all, unless you know the names of the guests. There is absolutely nothing wrong or irritating about just “Good evening” or “What can I get from the bar tonight?” My guess is that the softball team ravenous for burgers after a game would be as stunned as members of a seniors’ club to be addressed as something other than “you guys.”

Maybe we could all get together and demand a dollar off the bill for every time we are called guys. Some establishments would wind up owing us money and that surely would force a change overnight.

Mike McGinty is a Business Ledger reporter and commentator

Are you for real?
You have nothing more important to write about than that? Are you that insecure that being referred to as "You guys" upsets you so much? You could have covered the story of the Chicago Pizzeria owner who claimed he was forced to hand over lots of dough (couldn't resist) to the mob. You could have covered the story of the Funeral Home boss who cleared off with lots of cash and stiffed (again that was a bit easy) the families of the bereaved. You could have but you didn't. Instead you had a go at waiters. So here are just a few of the ways I'd greet you given half a chance...

[clears throat]

Good evening..

Oh and happy 4th of July to all you Americans out there. Who say's terrorism doesn't pay?

Only joking....

16 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

savannah said...

waiting for the out-of-towners to your are fantastic, sugar..and i have been drinking mojitos thanks, tomorrow we will raise a glass to YOU & LMM!

(i did tead your entry, but hell, sugar...this is the best i can do right now) :)

Medbh said...

As a feminist, I use "guys" as a generic label without political baggage in the context of the restaurant or the classroom.
I don't register the term as bearing any specifically gendered intent.
But that's just me.

Conortje said...

What has it got to do with Waiters/Waitresses anyway surely lots of people use the term. That's why the good old Irish term 'ye' is so useful. The English language is much the poorer for not having a you plural - it's badly needed. Anyways well said Manuel!

Old Knudsen said...

I use "Guy" to describe a fat fuck wearing a sports shirt who drinks his beer and stuffs his face and with one hand sratching his balls watching the footie and yelling how lazy they all are.

or if its his name.

toast said...

its 'youse'uns' as any fool knows.

bad week for waiters in the press all round with thon fella in the observer who i never normally read having a paper at youse'uns as well:

toast said...

'having a paper' isn't a new term that has slipped you by, but rather what happens when a man of limited intelligence trys to type 'having a pop' with too many things in his mind...

garcon, more gin please

Manuel said...

Ok I'm running late. But I'll deal with all these when I get home, oh in about 13 hours. Great news about Alan Johnston though, yippee! Now that's worth writing about....

tallulahbloom said...

I agree with Conortje "ye" is perfect but I always feel a bit silly saying it.
And yes fantastic news about alan johnston

Medbh said...

It could be some class privilege thing as well with "guy" being too informal or familiar an appellation for the bourgeois tight asses. They want servers to grovel with sir and madame.

D said...

At the hotel, I was trained to call everyone 'Sir' or 'Miss' (we avoid Madam as it makes women feel old).

I actually get more complaints from people telling me just to call them 'mate' and stop being so formal.

Lord Milky said...

Sorry Manuel, 'guys' is one of the most irritating ways of addressing people.

In a resteraunt it suggests a gum chewing, slack jawed twat who would then start cracking half arsed jokes, much to the embarrassment of his diners.

Of course, there are worse things you could say to people (as you beautfully pointed out), and it would not lead me to write a full length diatribe against an establishment, but if I had bothered to go to somewhere above McDonalds, I would expect sir, madam, the plural of you, or something non matey.

Lord Milky said...

I can't even spell restaurant properly; shows how much I know!

A. A. Ayscoughe~Hussey said...

Do you do an 'All you can eat for a tenner'at your establishment? I am thinking of asking a young lady out for a romantic meal.

Manuel said...

HEY YOU GUYS! Sorry I haven't responded to your comments properly yet. I am working 3 12 hour shifts in a row and I am whacked! I will respond properly tomorrow. Carry on...

dysnomia said...

I use "guys" for a group of younger people. I use "folks" for the older crowd. I expect there's something wrong with that, as well.

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