Sunday, December 17, 2006

New York: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I have had some great experiences since Roxi and I have been here in New York, but on Saturday and Sunday, I definitely had what could be considered a couple of "sub-optimal" experiences. Saturday night, we went to the East Village to have a few drinks at a couple of bars. At the last bar of the night, the six of us in our group had about eighty dollars worth of drinks and as we were about to pay to leave, we were informed that the bill could only be paid in cash. Thankfully we had the cash between all of us, but it was fairly annoying that at no point in the restaurant, bar or menu was there any mention that the establishment was cash only.

As aggravating as that experience seemed, it was topped on Sunday morning at brunch. Garrett, Nicole, Roxi and I joined Melody, Gabe and four of their friends for a brunch. Our party of ten had a good and enjoyable meal, but when the three-hundred sixty dollar bill arrived, the waitress said that she could not split the bill between five credit cards...because it was too hard. Meanwhile, Gabe had already divided the total by five on his cell phone calculator. The waitress made a big deal about how she was going to get into trouble if she spit the bill five ways and told us to go to an ATM machine to get cash. We were all dumbfounded by this poor service and the idea that they would assume that one person would pay such a bill on one credit card. Those of us who have worked in the food industry were insistent that bills can be split several ways because we had all done it many times ourselves so eventually the waitress relented.

When she brought our cards, she said she couldn't do this again next time we came, to which I replied, "See you never." A little rude? Maybe, but I was fed up with the attitude of superiority and condescension she was throwing our way. As we left she asked me what I had meant by my comment, as if there was any question. I of course started to explain that in the real world people spilt tickets and don't act like they are doing us a favor by being snooty. She then complained that she had to do all the cards manually. I inquired as to what she meant by "manually" to which she replied, with absolutely no hint of irony, "I had to swipe each card separately." That was when I lost it and was about to really blow up when Roxi stepped in and simply told the waitress, "You poor baby. You have a hard job," and corralled me to the door.

I was still really aggravated and was very soured on the New York experience for the next hour or so, but I have been working to let it go since then. But it's the principle of the matter that gets me. I got this overwhelming sense of smugness from the servers at several of the restaurants we have visited despite service and food quality that are comparable to what we can find everywhere else I have lived. The only difference in these restaurants and any back home is the overinflated prices. Of course the attitude and the prices are a function of what people are willing to put up with for the "privilege" of living in New York. If that's your cup of tea, great, but I think I'll stick with the rest of the "hicks" in flyover country. At least they can handle the paperwork involved in dealing with credit card payments.

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