Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema has very important news for you. When you dine out at a fine restaurant, the serving staff communicates information about your tastes and needs to the people who cook the food:
Writing orders on paper and tracking customers' preferences on a computer are well-known ways for restaurants to deliver smooth service. Some establishments go a step further and teach their workers to use discreet hand, eye and other signals to communicate with their colleagues — all without a sound.
I know, right? It was getting so tiresome sitting down for a meal and having servers just bring food without so much as a friendly greeting. Or worse, not asking about your birthday. But technology has enabled restaurant-eating to become truly interactive!
This article isn't about you and your preferences, however. It's about fancy people who eat at fancy places that are so now, like "BLT Steak in downtown Washington" and "CityZen in the Mandarin Oriental" and the Stork Club. But it's written in the second person, so that you could easily see yourself forcing service-sector workers into mute acts of genuflection on your Very Important Personhood:
Be flattered if you catch the general manager of BLT Steak in downtown Washington flashing a quick, sideways peace sign as he seats your party. Adam Sanders isn't revealing his politics; he's simply making a "V" — and alerting his staff to the presence of a VIP.
There are even hand-signals for when guests are celebrating special occasions, or when they want tap water instead of that pricey gassy stuff. This was a truly groundbreaking find by Sietsema—who should not be confused with Tom's cousin, New York-based food critic Robert Sietsema, who lives in a rent-stabilized apartment and loves dining at "absolutely decrepit" holes in the wall. You know, the kind of places where waiters don't make hand gestures to serve you.
Are more servers exercising their digits? "I'm sure it happens," says frequent diner Tim Zagat, founder of the popular Zagat Survey. "As a customer, I'm not supposed to witness it." To be effective, he says, silent exchanges also need to be discreet. "If I knew someone was signaling behind my back, I think that would be irritating."
Non-discreet hand-signaling? That's for the Applebee's/Cheesecake Factory feed-bag lower classes, dahling.
[Photo credit: RTImages/Shutterstock]