The Coral Gables restaurant where I work part-time as a bartender is a corporate one, subject to corporate decision-making, and we just recently got briefed on the new policy from upstairs that forbids any use of the word “no” when dealing with customers. Even “no problem” in response to someone saying thanks. The reasoning is that the word just sounds abrasive to begin with (curt, forbidding) but also it suggests agency on the part of the business, like we’re here for something other than service, that there are things the restaurant will and won’t allow, services we will and won’t provide.
Calls to mind the e.e. cummings, his poem “i sing of Olaf glad and big”
Olaf(upon what were once knees) / does almost ceaselessly repeat / “there is some shit I will not eat”e.e. cummings
Last week after serving a curt and forbidding family of eight that tipped $7 on their $200 tab I asked my manager if it’d be possible to implement what seems like the fairly common requirement of 18% gratuity on parties of eight or more.
He said no there’s no chance of that ever happening.
A case could’ve been argued but he dished his answer with a sympathetic look of total certainty, one that flexed how he too is subject to the whims of corporate governance that cares little for the client and less for the worker and all but entirely for the Dollar Herself. My manager’s only 25 and he works over 50 hours a week but he doesn’t have health insurance because the corporate plan he’s offered costs $300 a month and his salary isn’t enough that he can afford it (clever trick).
That party of eight, the ones who tipped about 4%, the first topping they requested on one of their three large pizzas, was corn.
I said, “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have corn.”
He blinked at me. “You don’t have corn.”
Without even thinking about it I said, “No, I’m sorry, no corn.”
Broke the rules twice in just a single sentence.
It’s a talent one cultivates only with many years of writing, reading.