A guy walks into a hotel restaurant bar in Boston’s Back Bay on an October night in 2003. The staff politely inform him that it is closing time, but that he may order from the full menu and have room service bring his order to his suite. The expensively dressed “gentleman” insists that he be allowed to eat at the bar, and the staff reluctantly agree to seat him. He proceeds to order a small cup of soup and a cup of coffee, which he nurses for the next hour and a half while reading the newspaper from front to back. The staff wait patiently without complaining. Finally, the man pays up and leaves the bar. The staff discover that he has left them a “tip” that can only be described as insulting.
That man was Tim McCarver, who was in town that night to work the Boston Red Sox – New York Yankees playoff series as the color commentator for Fox Sports, a position he continues to hold today – which is why I listened to last night’s World Series game on the radio.
When I worked with my mom in a restaurant one summer in junior high school, we had a strategy for dealing with customers like this. We would vacuum the area around and under their table until they left. Several years later, I learned another tactic from Geoff’s sandwich shop on Benefit St. in Providence when I went to visit a friend of mine who worked there. They set the tone with signs on the wall that were designed to deal with folks like Mr. McCarver. Among choice nuggets such as “We Touch Your Food,” my favorite line was:
“We Talk About You When You Leave.”