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Apr 15, 2011 06:37 PM

Touched by a Waitress


Today I went to a local restaurant that has decent food but always has pretty awful service. There's always something weird going on with the service too, everything seems confused. One time they totaled the bill wrong and we had to go through it ourselves. But today was a new standard in weirdness, and it made me wonder, is it OK for a wait-staff to touch the diners? Repeatedly? She started out doing some touching like we were bonding. Later the touching was apologetic, "I'm so sorry it's taking so long" (shoulder touch). The only places she touched were my clothed back and shoulder but it made me very very uncomfortable. I don't really like being touched that much, I'm not a hugger, etc. So is it ever OK? Or is this a bridge too far?

  1. Too far. I would consider it creepy.

    1. For a person who defines weird service with an example of a mis-added bill, I expect you find alot of weirdness. I think you just came across an excessive touchy-feely person who just happened to be your server. You adding that it was an expression of weirdness on the restaurant's part was just an expression of your own weirdness perhaps.
      I also do not in general like to be touched and like to maintain my personal space. Some people I know consider this to be weird.

      Is all this weirdness with the place worth the only decent food for you? Time to move one perhaps?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Quine

        I mentioned the mis-added bill as one example of many weridnesses. There's always something a bit off about the service. Once it was a misadded bill. Today it was very slow service, another time it was the order in which things were brought. I resent the statement that it is "an expression of [my] own weirdness."

        1. re: AliceS

          Maybe the owner is weird...and hires all their weird friends :)

        2. <is it OK for a wait-staff to touch the diners? Repeatedly?>

          No. I don't mind a tap to get my attention, if other methods have been tried and have failed, but I don't want strangers petting me. I instinctively pull away, and then I feel like a jerk, which makes it worse.

          2 Replies
          1. re: small h

            A tap on the shoulder, the person coming from behind? or not quite in my peripheral vision - I would jump sky high and probably yell!

            1. re: Rella

              I am trained in tactical weapons, my reactions are a bit scarier. :-)

          2. I hate that type of over familiarity. If I don't know you then don't touch me and even if I do, be appropriate...i.e. no kissing on the lips unless you are my husband etc. I find it particularly off putting in a situation such as a restaurant or other type of public establishment..

            Given the fact that you have had other issues at this place, I would go elsewhere in the future.

            1. If you're looking for a hand count, then I say it's perfectly nice and friendly. People do that to me, and I do that to others on a frequent basis.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Steve

                Huh. I can appreciate how you may perceive this as "nice and friendly" but I would err on the side of assuming people don't want to be touched-- especially as the potential offence of not touching is significantly less than that of touching. That is, I'm happy to know you don't have a sense of personal space that you feel is invaded by unwanted touch. Others of us don't feel the same way, and uninvited touches can inspire less than positive interactions. (Just recently, a man attempting to be kind, took hold of my arm to gesture I should move ahead him. As instinctive response, I flinched and then asked him to please not touch me. I know he meant well, but now he felt bad for making me flinch. and I felt bad for making him feel bad. Had it been an "after you" it would have done differently.
                And lest there is an effort to psychoanalyse, etc. my question would be this: Why must I defend my desire not to be touched by strangers?

                1. re: Lizard

                  "Why must I defend my desire not to be touched by strangers?"

                  You don't have to defend yourself. However you feel is up to you. Just don't expect the world to conform to how you feel. I was simply stating a fact: that others do that to me, and I have done it as well.

                  1. re: Steve

                    No, I don't expect the world to conform to how I feel. It is sad, however, that you stand by your desire to disrespect the very real possibility that someone does not wish to be touched or handled by you.

                    1. re: Steve

                      Steve: Uh, yeah it IS up to me. I have autonomous control over my body, my boundaries, and over who is permitted to cross those boundaries, how, and when. I am disturbed you feel entitled to cross those boundaries according to your whim, with no regard or respect for the rights of others.

                      1. re: Leonardo

                        It is very common in my neck of the woods, so maybe it is not so common with you. As I said, it happens to me all the time, I'm just stating a fact.

                        Maybe if you were sandwiched in the metro on your way to work where everyone is packed into a subway car as tight as possible, your defenses would wear down as well.

                        1. re: Steve

                          That is not at all the context of this topic. When one enters a crowded train, there is the implied understanding one is entering close quarters. Not analogous at all to a server choosing to invade my space.

                          1. re: Leonardo

                            A server, or anyone.

                            The fact is, situations like crowded vehicles or spaces are unavoidable circumstances. (Steve makes many assumptions about where others have lived, I see.) People reaching out to give 'kindly' pats and unwanted touch, less so.

                            I appreciate that there is the genuine will to be nice, but I really wonder about how this aim to be nice works with an 'I don't have to conform to what makes you comfortable' mentality.But can one really be entitled to touch others not wishing to be touched?

                            (It might surprise Steve to learn that because of my upbringing, I am also ok with the cheek-kissing greeting, even of those I just meet. However, I do not bring that to where those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the custom)

                            1. re: Lizard

                              The only assumption I make is that, if people react in shock to a friendly pat, then they do not see what I see on a daily basis.

                            2. re: Leonardo

                              I didn't use it as an analogy. I simply stated that if you had that happen to you day in an day, out, maybe your defenses against a server touching you would not be as acute.

                              Again, I am just adding my perspective to the mix. It is just as valid as yours. I am not putting you down. You absolutely have the right to feel the way you do.

                              1. re: Steve

                                I'm sorry, but I have to disagree- and it does happen to me day in and day out as I live/work in DC/NOVA and take the metro regularly, like you. I do not react the same to repeated, intentional touches as I do to inadvertant ones on the train. I think it's a mistake to assume exposure to the one (crowded train commute) should de-sensitize you to the other (unwanted intentional touches by a stranger). I'll also note that I commonly experience people (yes, mostly men), stand too close and instigate similar "accidental" touches on the metro even when it's not jam-packed. And I now refuse to grin and bare it. People do that sort of thing because they're betting that your social graces/norms/whatever prevent you from being "rude" and asking them not to. I have no problem asking someone to step away from me, and I don't feel guilty about it.

                                I would have the same perspective for a waiter touching too much. I wouldn't let "politeness" or not wanting to embarrass them prevent me from stopping an uncomfortable situation. It's unfortunate that that may make them feel uncomfortable, but in the end it's probably better than stewed, unspoken resentment.

                    2. re: Steve

                      Steve, I admire that kind of openness and friendliness and wish the world was more open to it.
                      I'm not a particularly touchy feely person but I am generally not offended by the touch of a stranger. We're all human beings - I'm ok, you're ok... all that.