Poll: What's In A Name?

You've just been seated at a restaurant, and your server approaches. Do you expect the server to introduce him or herself by name, or do you prefer to keep things on more impersonal terms? Does it depend on how the introduction is delivered?

During my six or so years as a waitress, I gradually came to resent (inwardly, of course) people asking and subsequently using my name for the rest of the evening. Then again, I started to be bothered by a lot of normal customer behavior, which was more the result of me needing to get out of the service industry than anything else.

Cast your vote in the new poll, located in the column to the right. Have a strong opinion? Vote and then leave your thoughts in the comment section. I'll pull from them when the poll results are tallied.


Michael said...

I know I always hated the "Hi, my name is Betsy and I'll be your server tonight." Now, I just hope the server is comfortable with however they want to present themselves and that it is genuine. If that includes a name, that's cool. I heard Governor Martin O'Malley's wife at a Phillips Foods 50th anniversary party last year indicate that she had waited tables for Phillips during college -- they used fake names as restaurant policy to keep it from getting personal.

Spiral Stairs said...

I have never understood or liked it when servers tell me their names. I usually forget right away anyway, and I really can't imagine actually using the person's name at any point in the ordering, eating, or paying processes.

The practice strikes me as (i) something that's mandated by a corporate manual, when it happens at a chain; or (ii) pandering in hopes of a larger tip (How could you stiff your friend out of a big tip?), when not at a chain.

Greg said...

I think a lot depends on how it's presented. A "and if you need anything, my name is Pete" is pretty subtle yet helpful. It's also great at restaurants where any number of people might take my drink order, take my food order, bring my food, clear it away, etc.

But I feel the same way about retail store fitting rooms. If I'm getting help from someone, I like to know a name.

Anonymous said...

I HATE it when someone tells me their name as a waiter, and immediately lose respect for the restaurant when I hear it. It's so pointless, and hints of eating at a T.G. McFunster's Family Food Bag chain. How much 'flair' are they required to sport before getting on a first name basis with me? Are we to be friends now? Will he/she stay in touch after the meal?

If you need someone's attention, saying "excuse me, Damian?" vs. saying simply, "excuse me" does no more good expediting a server's attention when hailing them.

If you are one of those worthless servers who does this without a corporate mandate, then please stop. If you are a customer who often forces an awkward introduction on a busy waiter who just wants to make his 20% from you without getting errand requests by name, you will want to cut it out as well.

Andrew said...

I'm not a fan of waiters introducing themselves. There are better and worse ways ways to do it, but it's more or less useless. Floor staff know which sections waiters are working in, so you can simply ask for your waiter, and everyone should be on the same page. But it's not nearly as bad as when a waiter asks you if you've ever been to the restaurant before. I've been tempted to leave at this question. It drives me insanse.

Amanda said...

Ah yes, the 'have you dined with us before?' is running rampant through our fair city.

Michael - I knew I was onto something not wanting to give my name, but wow, a fake name policy is great.

"Hi, I'm Principessa Pamplemousse and I'll be your server this evening."

Anonymous said...

Giving their name, hoping to be more personal = bigger tip ???

hoogrrl said...

When I go out for a meal with someone, I am usually at the restaurant to be with the person I came with. I didn't come there to make friends with the server. Therefore, personal information is just not necessary. This is a huge personal peeve, about which I have railed for a long time. Thanks for bringing it up, Metrocurean!

Amanda said...

While it seems most people don't obsess over things like this, people who do have an opinion feel strongly about it. I wonder if having worked in a restaurant colors one's attitude on this?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I like when the server gives their name and for the very reason, some of the commentators here have said why they hate giving their name. I don't plan to use their name in vain but I do think I get better service if I know the name of the server because I can get their attention. Also, it is about ownership and accountability. If you gave great service, I know who to ask for next time and who to give credit to when I get good service. And visa versa when you give bad service, and the purpose is not to get you in trouble but to be able to communicate.

I mean which is better - "hey you!" or "excuse me, Buffy". :)

I guess those people who don't want to know the names of their servers don't know what they are missing.

Anonymous said...

I prefer using someone's name rather than trying to call someone by saying "Miss" or "Sir." Not sure about others but I don't plan on using your name later in the evening or a week later at some other bar I run into that person in. I recognize that the brief interaction was at the restaurant and not good for later unless that waiter/waitress makes an effort to recognize me.

I know some of my buddies think they have a chance with waitresses but I worked in the bar business and know all the tricks. So the name means nothing to me other than to be able to obtain service. I have been known at restaurants to getting my own drinks/service if the waiter/waitress isn't attentive. Think about it, the order of things is that we are at the table and have to be served everything by the waiter/waitress. I'd do it myself if I were home.

On a side note, I remember my waitresses who wanted bigger tips would casually place a hand on a man's shoulder who they were serving. THAT made it personal though we had to sometimes remind such inebriated fellows that she had a BF and they normally pointed that BF to be me. I volunteered for such duty as a former college football player. That normally ended any romantic overtures to said waitress.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if servers are giving out their names just to be gracious and nice?
It does not shock me to read some of the rude comments on this site.
You couldn't pay me enough to wait on the people who post such rude words.
"does she think we will actually be friends?"
"I usually forget right away..''
"..it's from a corporate manual"
"..pandering for a larger tip",
"..will we stay in touch after the meal"
"worthless servers"???
"..it's more or less worthless";
"hoping to be more personal"??
"I didn't come there to make friends.."
This is the future of our world.
Robots waiting on our tables with no personal touch or smiles. No one trusting each other. Maybe I'm reading into this a bit too much, One person's name.
(I'm sure I will here about it.)
If there is a restaurant that I go to regularly, it's comforting to know if "Sam" will be my server again. Or maybe "sam" could get me a better table near the window. Or maybe I'd just like to say Hi to "Sam" again, and thank him for being so nice to my table last week.
Hi, I'm Joe
oops, nobody cares.
oh, and no, I didn't want to be friends with 'you' either.
maybe I'm just pandering for money.
What a shame to read most of these posts.
I'm not a server.