Tuesday, July 1, 2014


No reservations
Before I start this diatribe, I must
make something completely clear.
I love living in Lewistown. Not a
moment of any day goes by that
I don't thank God for the privilege
of living here. Overall, I want for
nothing. We have a lovely home.
Frank's family provides endless
love and support. Friends charm,
engage, and occasionally surprise.
All that we lack is getting decent
table side service when we dine
out. It's a lost art in rural Montana.
What happened?
I try to not be a snob. Yet within the realm of hospitality there are long established standards. Said guidelines define the demeanor and process of waiting tables. Done right, everything is focused on giving a guest the best experience possible. It's all about courtesy. Sadly, it's rare that I experience anything that even slightly resembles proper service here in town. Instead whatever semblance of servitude is mediocre at best.
Remember when?
Recently we spent a few days out
of town. While we never exited the
state, we did enter a different state
of service. Suddenly the challenges
that drive me nuts evaporated into
thin air. In their place was the simple
and elegant art of waiting table. This
isn't rocket science and while in any
other town it's the norm, experiencing
anything that resembles thoughtful
service suddenly seems decadent. It's
a true gift, the ultimate pleasure, and
in the end, complete satisfaction.
Few and far between
Don't get me wrong. I'm fine with
anybody serving me the slop at a
greasy spoon. The establishments
we frequent have ladies who know
what they're doing and do it with
panache. We have one fine dining
establishment that does it right.
The staff is courteous, charming,
conscientious, and confident. Sadly,
it's the exception here in Lewistown.
Hence, every meal is nothing but an
adventure. You see, we never know
what is going to happen.
A lesson taught
It's really not their fault. While I've
never been a waiter, I appreciate and
respect their craft. Most of the little
touches that make a difference are
part of a time tested ritual. Here in
Lewistown I fear that our challenge
is not the individuals who serve us.
Rather their superiors either don't
bother to train them or don't know
better themselves. That's the only
way I can explain the errors of their
ways! Imagine having a table cleared
sans the thud of a falling knife! JOY!
Check please
In theory I accept my lot in life.
To live in paradise requires that
I embrace this world where few
know what they're doing. My
problem is not the people, it's
the lack of quality control. Is it
that nobody cares or rather that
nobody knows? It's not that
I don't care, it's simply that it's
not worth driving myself nuts
over spilt cabernet. So instead
I'm friendly, kind, and grateful
for whatever we get!
On the job training
Once I re-enter the real world, the
realization of just how bad it all is
hits me. And yet, why fight reality?
Unless I'm willing to start a local
hospitality training school, I must
get off my high horse. When they
can't properly uncork a bottle table
side, I calmly coach. There is no
benefit to torturing these kids. With
some patience and kindness they all
learn something that will make my
next meal more appetizing. One
thing is certain, it can't get worse!