Thursday, June 08, 2006

Napkins

Mr. Pink would like Ukraine. You're not expected to tip. Some places have 10 percent built into the bill, but this is rare. And if you're at a place where the tip isn't included, you can sound extravagant to the other members of your dinner party if you suggest that you tip, say, 7.4 percent.

"I don't think the service was that good."

"Maybe five percent."

"It's these Americans. They get a little money and they want everyone to know."

"Seven-point-four percent!"

"Maybe I'd go four."

You'd think the service would be bad, but for most eating out is still an extravagance, so restaurants are far from full. Or there are many people in the restaurant, but you're the only one who didn't finish his food more than an hour ago. I can only presume this leaves the wait staff looking for something to do.

I find one element of the over-service a little disturbing. I can't keep a napkin. I take one out of the little dispenser on the table. I wipe my mouth. I crumble it up in my palm. I set it down. And then in swoops the waitress to take it away. I started to think it must be where I placed it on the table -- off in the middle, too far away from my plate. Perhaps there was a demilitarized zone, I told myself, into which Ukrainians set their refuse and empty coffee cups. But no, I moved it closer to my plate and still it disappeared.

Yesterday, I sat in a four person booth, furthest to the wall. I placed the napkin on the far side of my plate. The waitress took it no more than five seconds after I set it down. She lunged across the table to reach for it. She took my dinner companion's plate, but that was just her cover, I'm sure of it. What she wanted was the napkin.

1 Comment:

The dinner guest said...

Maybe they are secretly doing biological experiments and need to make sure teh specimance are fresh. There were simmilar claims made by the famous German Tennis Player when he claimed taht a russian/ukrainian team implanted his genetric material so as to make a false perternal claim against him in the courts. But I know what you mean by over servicing. I was in Ukraine recently and well I want to practice my Russian/Ukrainian and as soon as the waiter discovered I spoke english they thought hey... this is my chance to impress and practice my English. this is fine bvut could they not do it on their time and not mine. I want to seak Russian/Ukrainian. :(