Where I write

Where I write

August 13, 2012

I wish it were 1986....

I have become obsolete. Soon, instead of a server coming to your table and taking your order, you will take your own order using a device called The Presto Tablet. The tablet will help you with wine selections, menu choices, total the bill and, according to its makers, do everything but pick up the dirty dishes. Look how much fun these young folks are having staring at a computer screen because, of course, they never get to see a computer screen. Right.

Okay so this is what I don't understand. How is it better to have to think when you go out to eat, to press buttons, and make decisions, to stare yet again at a computer screen, instead of the joy of being served, of talking with, a real live smiling person? Isn't the fun of eating out the chance to be pampered? For someone to appear to care what you want to eat? Don't we press enough buttons, look at enough screens, all day long? I guess not. I feel old fashioned.

It's like going to the grocery store and ringing up (is that term even used anymore) your own purchases, weighing the apples, searching for bar codes, bagging all the stuff. How is that progress? Have they lowered the food prices because you are not requiring the help of a cashier? No! I always go to the cashier and enjoy standing there watching him or her work.

I had to laugh, as I'm sure anyone who has worked as a server, at the Presto Tablet press release which said that people will be so satisfied with control over their ordering they will even leave the server a bigger tip. The person who wrote this is clueless.  Why would you leave a bigger trip when the computer, with your help, has done most the work? All the server does is drop your food at the table and then clean it when you leave. If people do leave a bigger tips, then they are clueless, too.
Sometimes I just wish it was 1986  again.
In 1986 everyone relied on clocks and  answering machines. I have zero messages. Of course I do. I never use my land line. When the phone rings at home I'm surprised. Yet, I can't let go of my answering machine, or my land line. I want to cling to the familiar. And how many people keep big clocks around anymore? Everyone just checks their phones for the time. I still even wear a wrist watch.
 People fifty years from now may never have seen a coffee table book. Big books with splashy pictures may be too costly to produce and, besides, everyone is using a Nook or some other device. What a shame. Coffee table books are great, not just for decorative purposes, but if you go to someones house you could glance through their coffee table books and be entertained, especially if the company was boring. You could learn a lot about a person from a coffee table book.  I have one coffee table book purchased on sale at the soon to be obsolete book store.

When I was growing up, we had a knife sharpener who would push his little cart down the street. The bells on his cart alerted housewives to take off their aprons and put down the baby to come to the street with their knives. Chatting with the knife man as he sharpened a favorite chopping knife, and talking with the other housewives waiting for their turn, must have been a beautiful way to stay connected. Here in Phoenix, in the land of tile roofs and brick walls, about all you get is a quick wave. I sighted my neighbor yesterday for the first time in six months. We chatted for two seconds. I was thrilled to know he still existed. He lost weight. Or maybe that wasn't my neighbor.

No matter what happens I hope this is one restaurant position that has remained unchanged, the handsome bartender job. What a loss if he is replaced by The Presto Tablet! If that happens, I truly will toss in my apron. But I'm not sure I can give up my answering machine.


C.B. Wentworth said...

There is definitely a such thing as too much technology! I, for one, will always prefer a real person taking my order instead of a machine! :-)

Rita A. said...

I took my grandson to dinner at a real restaurant and taught him how to ask for a refill of his drink. he thought the waiter was pretty cool and the waiter got a bigger tip. No tablet can do that!!!

Charles said...

My mother raised three kids on tips, so I always try to leave a good tip. But when I go to a place where you give your order at a counter, then find your own table, then someone brings your food and that's the last you see of that person, then I don't tip. Seems like this tablet thing will have the same effect.

SunsetCindi said...

It seems that this new generation who stare at their computers and phones all day will think it's only natural to have the presto thing. It definitely won't entice bigger tips. I know I won't like it and would not go to a restaurant with it as I don't want to have the stress of one more techno thing in my life. I too have a landline and answering machine and a flip top cell phone that all it does is take phone calls. There's something to be said for 1986.

Connie Flynn said...

You are so right, Suzanne, and I smiled as I read your blog, thinking about the residents of North Scottsdale who are complaining about the legalization of ice cream trucks. Remember running down the street with coins in hand (well, today, it would be bills or even a debit card), but anyway, remember. Standing in line, feeling the cool air from their refrigerated truck, talking to the neighbors. It was great. So what are those complainers talking about?

Great blog. Very engaging. I so glad I dropped in.

DMS said...

I want to go back to 1986. I still listen to tapes and don't even have a cell phone. I use my computer every day- but I like some parts of the simpler lifestyle. As for the computer instead of a server. No way! I was a server for over 20 years- I think businesses will see that servers actually help make money by making recommendations and upselling. I don't want to do my own ordering.


Expostulator said...

No computer system, however subtle, can take the place of a good wait person for taking care of the food needs of real people. I know of all of the different factors that have to be dealt with to provide the service people desire, and deserve. A tablet can not cut it.

Anonymous said...

Since people are morons, they will be ordering the wrong food and then when it is brought will exclaim quite indignantly, "that's not what I ordered!" when of course they pushed the wrong buttom because they did not read carefully and the restaurants will lose money on food returned. I guarantee this! Love, Tracy