Sunday, July 06, 2008

Easy Personality Test

I think it was Dave Barry who said something like, if you want to really know someone just watch how they treat waiters and waitresses. It doesn't matter if the waiters are good or bad, there is a dynamic of human interaction between diner and waiter that reveals the true character of someone.

This is a cheap and easy personality test. If you are dating someone, if you want to know what a potential employee/employer is like, if you want to REALLY know your boss or even your priest (or any spiritual relation), take them to a decent restaurant when it is fairly busy. Then just watch them interact with the wait staff.

Are they polite?
Do they speak to them like human beings?
Are they condescending or rude?
Are they demanding, self absorbed, or act like yours is the only table in the restaurant?
Do they criticize them?
Do they make allowances or adjust their expectations for how busy they are?
Are they complimentary of small services or attentiveness?
Do they say "Please" and "Thank you"?
Do they smile or joke with them or treat them like "servants"?
At any time are you embarrassed by how they speak or act toward the waiter?
And finally, how do they tip? Do they tip with grace or law? (Personally, I tip 25-30%. Jesus says if we are constrained to go one mile go two, give your coat and your cloak. If the service is lousy, tip like Christ crucified: with grace and mercy for the sinner.)

I've been to restaurants with a LOT of people in my life. Dates, friends, employees, employers, priests, monks, abbots and bishops. And this is a fact, the true measure of a person is revealed at a restaurant table. You will know in one hour whether a person is humble, and regards himself as the servant of all or if she or he is an arrogant, self centered egoist. Over the years I've lingered behind to apologize for my table-mate's behavior, I've slipped additional money under my plate to make up a cheap tip or as a propitiation for the rudeness of my friends and, it is sad to say, even clergy at my table.

The measure of a person is how they treat those "beneath" them, one time encounters with someone who has no meaning or purpose except to serve a desire of the flesh. Jesus may as well have said, "By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for waiters."


Unknown said...

Great insight, Steve! Great job also on the Our Life in Christ series on Mary!

Athanasia said...

This kind of thing drives my DD bananas. I usually engage everyone in conversation! Especially the clerk at the food register.

"WHY do you have to talk to EVERYBODY MOM????"

Because they're human beings.


Anonymous said...

lol thank you for this post! I am a waitress, and I sometimes wish I could tell people, trust me, I do my best all the time because your tip *is* my paycheck (base pay $2.50 an hour before all the taxes from tips). Just be nice - it makes our day. Not only towards us but also towards your companions; we do not like standing there listening to you arguing... Besides, we are human beings and like to smile and converse with others.

DvntWriter said...

Thoughtful post Sub deacon. Christ could also have said, "By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for pizza delivery people."

Kimberly said...

I just got to your site b/c someone sent me your Kate Walsh rant of a few months ago, which was guaranteed to send me over the edge!

Have added you to my Reader!

Steve Robinson said...

Welcome to the blog Kimberly. If you're new, you might check out my recent post "Best of...this Blog" (its in the recent posts sidebar).

Grace said...

Oo, I *love* this observation! There are little things you can observe about your friends that turn out not to be so little, and -- as you say -- this is one of them.

I had a friend who always seemed a little "high-maintenance," but I thought it was just me and was trying to be more responsive to her and less sensitive to slightly acidic style. But then I started noticing that I was downright embarrassed to go out to restaurants with her because she was so awful to waiters and waitresses. I never thought of hanging back and apologizing for her, as you say you've done, but I wish I had.

And we're not friends anymore. She's not speaking to me because she thinks I'm too mean (meaning I got tired of walking on eggshells and finally demanded she treat me like a person). Ugh. Lord, have mercy.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I'm so aware of this, not because I've been a waitress, but because my dad is so horrid to servers. He's miserable, mean and blames them for anything that isn't to his liking. I'm always so embarassed.

Steve Robinson said...

I'm constantly amazed how accurate this simple interaction is in unmasking a person's true character. Even people who bend over backwards to appear nice in other settings, (especially Church) unravel when their food shows up cold or late or they don't get their refill etc. It also invariably works out that the characteristics they display in a restaurant are also indicative of how they treat those close to them. If I were dating and my date was a jerk to a server, I'd dump the relationship immediately. Of course its not foolproof, but as a cheap and quick indicator of a lot of personality/relationship issues, its virtually infallible.