Where’s the Waiter When You Want to Pay the Bill?

Where’s the waiter when you want to pay the bill?

A question I’ve not only been asking myself, but one which I find myself bringing up just about every time Mr R and I go out to eat. Just why does it take so long to get the bill in a restaurant? Where does the waiter go when you want to pay? Mr R’s view is that it’s deliberate; that the staff have been trained to leave you sitting there, so eventually you might just order one more drink, some desserts or maybe a coffee. I wonder, if you’re waiting for the waiter, aren’t you the waiter?

An enormous amount of effort is made by the restaurant to cater to your every need. From the moment you make a reservation, an email confirmation promptly finds its way to your inbox. Arrive at the restaurant and you’re greeted by attentive and welcoming staff. You’re served top class food from the kitchen, with every course presented beautifully, timed and thought out to give you the ultimate dining experience. Plates are swiftly cleared away and finally you’re asked “would you like anything else”? This is the last you’ll see of the waiter.

Regardless of whether you’re eating at a burger restaurant, a gastro pub or splashing out on fine dining, once you’ve finished eating, the waiter will simply vanish into thin air. At times you will still see them running around serving other tables or just hanging around in the corner of the room looking anywhere but at you sat there waving your arms in the air, trying to make eye contact, politely trying to get their attention. What possible reason is there that they don’t want you to pay?

In the US, the waiter or ‘server’ will anticipate when you’re ready for the bill and bring it to the table even if you haven’t asked for it. They are often trained not to allow their customers to wait for anything. The fast food culture of America may make you feel rushed, although it is not intended to be rude. I’m not suggesting that European restaurants adopt the same etiquette as our friends across the pond, only that they are available to allow us to pay and leave before things start to get uncomfortable.

Have you experienced endless waiting to pay for your meal, long after plates have been cleared away and your glasses left empty? If you have a view on this, I’d love to hear it, please leave a comment or send me a tweet @pershorepatty

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