Thursday, May 31, 2007

Deaf, feeble and blind

In my many years of food service experience, I have had the opportunity to serve people with every malady and ailment imaginable it seems. Over these many years I have discovered a couple of things. First, blind people are generally very generous in their tips. Deaf people tend to far less generous. Perhaps it's because I have a nice voice and an ugly face, but I suspect it goes deeper than that. People with handicapped or developmentally disabled children are also generally above average in their generosity at the end of the meal. This is both those with younger children, as well as dependent adult children.

Over the years I've found that I prefer waiting on blind people over probably any other category of people (well, with the exception of low-maintenance-big-spending-even-bigger-tipping people). As servers, we can really impact the experience of some with vision impairment. When you take their order, take it just as you would anyone else. The direction of your voice, the volume, and inflection are very important during this transaction. Later, when you place things on the table you can and should inform the person where you are putting it. "Water glass at 2 o'clock 10 inches from the edge of the table." While you might find it funny giving a visual reference "2 o'clock" to a blind person, they always understand where it is. When you set food in front of the person, warn them that there is a section that is exceptionally hot - "Your Scampi is on the right side of the plate, and it just came out of the oven."

Most of all, remember to watch your vocal inflection. Blind people are incredibly perceptive to variances in your voice. They can tell if you are stressed or hurried or unhappy.

If the person has a helper animal (dog) you should ask them first before addressing or touching the dog. If you do touch the dog, remember to go wash your hands, all the other tables are watching you. This is especially important if you are waiting on both a blind person with a dog as well as a Muslim person.

I'm sure I could come up with a lot more, but I'll leave the rest for you to fill in down in the comments.

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Manuel said...

my advice is to keep able bodied people out of the disabled toilet. That annoys the crap out of me.

Sarah said...

I'd like to say that even though you said deaf people generally tend to be poor tippers, not ALL of them are though! My family and I always tend to tip 15% or more, unless the waiter/waitress completely sucks then they get less.

I don't think you should generalize like that. Deaf people are just as able as anyone else, and why does being deaf give us our own category for being a type of tipper? I don't see you saying black people tend to be bad tippers or white people, whatever.

Steve said...

I may not have much experience with serving and tipping, but I do know that you can do some racial and socioeconomic profiling, whether it be at the liquor store or at a restaurant. Any generalization you make may not apply to all persons in a particular group, but that does not make the general trend any less true. I'll have to write about that sometime soon, because I have a lot of observations to share.

Liquor Store Stories

Ex-restaurant manager said...

Lobster Boy, Lobster Boy, Lobster Boy....that can of worms should have been left unopened. Not only is it a no-win situation, you might alienate someone who previously supported you. After all that, I've almost always found sight-challenged persons to be very patient, calm, almost zen-like. I guess forcing yourself to slow down for the most menial things brings things into perspective.

Anyway, keep up the good work, and keep fighting the good fight.

Lobster Boy said...

I really write for my own sanity, but I greatly appreciate everyone else who contributes. So I don't really worry with who I might offend (read back a while, you'll see I've offended most everyone at some point probably!).

I'm not saying all deaf people are bad tippers, that is by no means the case. They simply are not (on average) as generous as vision impaired customers. I should quantify that in a previous portion of my life I worked across the street from a school for the deaf (not while I was an RL employee) so my experience with deaf people is far more extensive than with the blind. Further, I've pointed out some pretty specific groups that tip poorly. At some point down the road I intend an entire post with my thoughts on various sub groups and how they tip. As Steve of the Liquor Store says, there are some definite generalizations that can be made with high levels of accuracy. If you work in an industry long enough, you come to understand those things (if you are at all observant). I just have a knack for picking up on this better than many others do I suspect.

Lobster Boy

Chev said...

FYI, 15% in my area is actually considered a bad tip.

Second of all, deaf people often have a chip on their shoulder and are not very fun to serve

stupescommaruth said...

btw.....does RL carry braille menus? just curious.

mrclm said...

I don't know about other RL store, but store 154 has at least 1 braille menu that we store in our host stand. I haven't seen it in use, though we do have at least one regular who is blind. She knows what she wants, and is always a delight to wait on (with her husband). They are super nice, and tip well, and always split a bottle of wine. They come in about once a week or so.

Big Chris

TRiG said...

Do you know any of the local sign language? You're American, yes? So do you know any ASL? Just enough to greet customers and to hold a basic conversation? It might have an effect on how they perceive you. After all, it's far easier for you to learn their language than it is for them to learn yours.

Lobster Boy said...

Yes, I do actually know some sign language. I used to date a girl whose best friend was deaf. Plus, working across the street from a school for the deaf (I was in a service industry job) made me learn some as well. I'm certain I know more than 99% of the rest of the American population, though that by NO MEANS makes me either knowledgeable or proficient at ASL. But I am the guy who gives the book "Baby Signs" to all his friends who are having their first child. So I'm not ignorant on this subject.

Lobster Boy

Emily said...

Been reading your blog since 2010, when I started working for Olive Garden. Earlier this year, the new GM did me the biggest favor ever and terminated me over a BS guest complaint. She freed me from Darden hell.

Anyways, last Saturday night I was waiting on a party of four, two of whom were blind. I remembered reading this entry and took your advice about directing them and taking a few extra steps. The two people who were blind were grateful and incredibly nice. The couple who was not blind also appreciated my efforts and rewarded me with $30 on $115.