Monday, July 4, 2011

Service with a smile

We added plenty of fuel to the 'can anyone do service like the Americans?' debate this weekend. We travelled from New York - in the country which invented consumerism and therefore service - to London - which is trying to catch up, honest... As usual, every time a waitress smiled or proactively brought water, I said 'see?!' to TLOML. And every time we waited while a waiter studiously avoided eye contact! He came right back at me with a 'see!?' of his own. He got to say it more often. But not by much.

The service in London really is not half bad. But clearly the British hospitality industry is never going to adopt the 'Hi! I'm Candy and I'll be your waitress, how is everyone doin' tonight?' model. And for this I think we can be grateful. Sometimes you just want the food and drink to arrive and dirty plates to be whisked away without all that bouncy energetic interaction.

Then we headed to Tallinn to hang with our favourite glamourous entrepreneur, take saunas with her and her handsome husband and drink brandy for breakfast and vodka with lunch. When in Rome and all that...

Estonia existed under the iron fist of Soviet Communism for decades so service is a somewhat foreign concept. Plus, it snows for about six months a year here: the sunny Californian sensibility is hard to muster up. Still, even the famously surly Estonians have surprised me.

Eating yesterday at a Medieval restaurant (yes, really) our waitress smiled, made cute little jokes, inquired after our health and our satisfaction with the meal. It was rather like being in Medieval Times in Los Angeles except, well, apart from the fact we were in an actual Medieval building and not a 60s prefab, we also did not have to tip 20%.

Look out America! The rest of the world is wising up to this service concept... And at half the price to boot.

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