The problem: We have a favorite restaurant we go to for special occasions. One of the wait staff is extremely obsequious. For instance, I get called “beautiful lady.” Ick! We’re uncomfortable with the fawning compliments. Rather than complain to management, I’d like to be able to politely tell her to cut out the over-the-top complimenting.
Low road: Ask to be moved immediately to another table where you demand that the service be bad and rude.
High road: I understand your lack of enthusiasm for such fawning, and I thank you for getting the word obsequious into my column. Your story reminds me of the server who called me “young lady,” which only means one thing. Ouch!
You don’t say what age group she falls into, or what part of the country you’re dining in. This verbal intimacy could be her way of getting bigger tips, or it could simply be the way people in her circle speak. Maybe she comes from a part of the country where “sweetie,” “honey” and the like are received warmly. And maybe you just have a hard time accepting compliments, as many people do.
Regardless, your satisfaction with the food and service is a top priority for the owner. Try not to chastise her. “Stop calling me beautiful!” sounds weird and will be hurtful to someone on her feet for hours a day cleaning up plates of uneaten pasta. Instead, look her in the eye and joke that, while you’re grateful for the unnecessary ego boost, she’s got it wrong. You only answer to, “Hey, you!” She’ll likely get the message. And you’ll put an end to this silliness without anyone getting burned.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.