Mustard, Actually (saint_aura) wrote in bad_service,
Mustard, Actually
saint_aura
bad_service

Common sense? Not so common...

This happened a few years ago, but I remembered it after reading another similar bad_service post.

One night, my family of five were going out for my brother's birthday dinner. We were going to Pancakes at the Rocks in Darling Harbour, & we had a booking. We always make sure we book for places we aren't regulars at, because accommodating a wheelchair isn't always that easy.

When we book a table for a restaurant, we always specify that there's "(five) of us, but one is in a wheelchair". We have to do this to make sure we get a table we can access, because there have been times when our reserved table has been in some far corner, completely unaccessable to a rather bulky wheelchair without disturbing other diners.

The location we went to has two sections. There's a small section that is always open, just inside the entrance, of about ten booths. Then there's a larger section further back, of tables. The tables open at the busier times, & aren't always staffed. The restaurant is open 24/7, though.

We get there on time, & the tables aren't open, which is fine. We try to get a table if they are open because wheelchairs don't go so well with booths, but otherwise my brother sits on the outside edge of the booth with his chair underneath. The hostess stared at us for a few moments when we arrived, looked around & then led us to a booth. Out of the ten or so booths, only two others had people sitting at them. That left about eight booths open, & any of the others would have suited us, excepting the one she led us to.

There are pillars in this restaurant, several feet thick. The booth she led us over to had one end against the wall, & the other end had a pillar right next to it, without a gap. There was space for two people to sit either side of the booth, but the pillar completely obstructed the end & we couldn't fit the wheelchair there. There was literally no way to put a wheelchair anywhere near this booth, which would have been awkward even without it.

When we got to the booth we all stopped, didn't sit down & my Mum turned to the hostess, said "We can't sit here. This is a completely unsuitable table for a wheelchair." & we got led elsewhere, after getting a confused look from her. She seemed completely bemused that we couldn't sit where she originally placed us, & asked why we didn't take him out of his chair instead, which was quite rude considering. I would've thought being a quadriplegic was a good enough reason to leave him in his chair, but whatever.

Even if there's an order by which groups are seated at particular booths, there are times when you have to adjust to suit the circumstances.

A waitress we saw later on had to reach over the people who were eventually seated at the problem booth to put down their food, because she couldn't reach the table around the pillar completely blocking the open end. It just seemed like a poorly-planned bit of the restaurant regardless, but I've been there more recently & I think the layout was changed a bit so this booth-with-pillar thing isn't as much of a problem anymore.

***

While typing the first story, I was reminded of another more recent one. One night, the boyfriend's family including his Mum, Dad, brother, himself & I (that makes five) all went out for dinner at the local pub. We stood waiting to be seated inside the door to the bistro, & the combination waitress/cook/bar woman came over.

Waiting there before us, standing separately, but no more than a metre away, was a bloke on his own. She looked at all six of us standing there, then asked how many people he was with. He said it was just him, so she led him over to one of two tables large enough to accommodate six people. Every single other table was small & fitted only two, although a few had four very crowded place settings. The other large table had six people already sitting at it & eating, & they were the only other people in the bistro.

After seating him, she came back to us. There were clearly five of us, she had definitely seen the five of us when she came over the first time, so of course she led us to a tiny table set for four. She didn't offer to get an extra chair, or pull two tables together, she just walked off without saying anything. After ascertaining that there wasn't even room to put our drinks on the table as well as the place settings, my boyfriend's Mum went over & politely asked the single man if we could swap tables. He angrily said no, fair enough as he'd been sat there & didn't have to give up his nice big table just because the waitress was incompetent, so we left.

Common sense, is it really that uncommon?!
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