NY Times list of dos and don’ts illustrates divide between guests and service industry


Currently making the rounds on Twitter is an article from The New York Times by Bruce Buschel, the main thrust of which is a list consisting of 100 dos and don’ts for restaurant staff. The response has been equally vitriolic and congratulatory, and it seems to be split fairly evenly between industry types and guests, respectively.

The former tend to take issue with Buschel for not understanding how much shit they put up with while the latter seem more than happy to share their dining-out horror stories. To be sure, there are plenty of commentators who occupy the middle ground on a sliding scale and I would lump myself in with them but I think the heated response to this article points to the frustration both sides feel towards each other which is just as much about a lack of respect and understanding as it is about different standards of service.

While I’m all about taking Buschel to task for his “modest” list (not to mention his lack of experience in the industry) he does raise some good points. Rules are good but what’s often missing from a strict interpretation of said guidelines is giving the server the necessary leeway to tweak them as befits each situation.

With that in mind, I’m going to go through Buschel’s list, point by point, and offer my take. (I’m also going to do my best to refrain from incriminating myself re: my current place of employment but I might slip up from time to time. Anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant knows the difference between not giving a shit and mindlessly following the company line; sometimes you gotta work with what you have.)