Language and Server-Speak

Garçon de Cafe
Creative Commons License photo credit: Stas Porter

This isn’t new, but I don’t think I’ve written about it before.

It often strikes me that people adopt a special way of talking once they become waiters. This isn’t necessarily a matter of training, but of some internal device that switches on when they take the job.

For example, when I’m eating at home, I’ve never had anyone ask me if I’m “still working on” a meal. They may ask whether I’m finished. Whether I’ve had enough? Am I all done? But not, “are you still working on that?”

If I can imagine someone asking me that at home, it’s when there’s a large holiday get-together, and an uncle or something is clearing plates away, acting as a waiter.

This is aside from my personal distaste at having my food referred to as something I’m working on. Like I just need to get these last few forkfuls tucked away and then I can finally relax.

Along the same lines, I don’t understand why people working on airplanes suddenly refer to a drink as a “beverage.” It doesn’t bother me, but I just don’t understand it. Why did that happen? In this case, I assume that it IS training, but who decided to train people to talk like that?


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