This kind of thing pisses me off, I'm firmly convinced that it's because we're each younger than 50. Each person in the groups our waiter stopped to chat with appeared to be 50-years-old or older, and they seemed to get consistent service throughout the evening. We were polite to the waiter, said "please" and "thank you" on every encounter, spoke directly to him, etc. There was no reason at all for us to be snubbed.
I've also noticed that the service I get at these type of restaurants improves markedly if I'm with my father. Dad is 65.
We've tried to guess what goes on inside our servers' heads. Do they assume that young people don't tip? If so, by treating all young people badly, they almost guarantee that the tips they get from younger customers will be less. I hate this because I do try to tip well. My boyfriend thinks that the servers are "playing the odds"--that is, if the odds are that young people are bad tippers, then it makes sense to snub the younger tippers because good service is unlikely to be rewarded (or so they think). Playing up to the older tippers is good business because they'll be more likely to tip big (although I've seen that on customers_suck, people more often complain about rude old people stiffing them).
Regardless of the reason, this particular variation of bad service--where I can see the tables with older people being treated well, while my own drink goes unfilled and my table unserved--is something that I've chiefly experienced in Southern California. I was out of the state for a couple of years, and based on that experience, I had hoped that I finally looked old enough to be treated well. This latest experience seems to contradict it.
What do you think? Have I completely misread the situation? Or have others had similar experiences?