Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Hover

There are three types of eating establishments here in Singapore: American-style fast food (Subway, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, and a few local spin-offs), hawkers, and sit-down restaurants. At the fast food restaurants, you order at the counter and pay immediately, just like you would in the United States. At the hawker centers, you order your food at the stall(s) of your choice, tell them your table number and then, pay when the food is delivered. At the sit-down restaurants, the hostess seats you and the waitress takes your order and brings your food. Unlike American restaurants where the waitress "kindly" brings your your bill to remind you that you've been sitting there too long, waitresses here wouldn't dare suggest you pay your bill until you ask for it. You could sit there for 4 hours and the waitress would never even hint about it. But, once you ask for your bill, a very interesting thing happens. I call it "the hover."

In the States, the waitress drops the bill off and leaves. When you're ready to pay, you flag her down and she stops by to pick it up. Here in Singapore, the waitress brings your your bill and then stands right next to you until you get your wallet out and settle the bill. She literally hovers right above your shoulder until you get the cash or card safely into her hands.

At first, the hover was unnerving, annoying. But now that we're used to it, it is kind of nice. It's nice to know that the restaurant is actually interested in meeting our wishes. If we wish to sit and enjoy our meal, they don't rush us off prematurely. If we wish to pay our bill, it's their top priority. That's what I call "good service."


Christianne said...

This was a cool post. I like how you broke it down into categories. And I like the perspective you've chosen to take on the hover.

Now that you've mentioned it, I have noticed that the servers at the Thai restaurants we go to are very comfortable waiting for us to take our card out of our wallet when they bring the bill, whereas we might try to hand it to a server right away in other types of restaurants but they've already rushed off to do something else. Which kinda drags when you're in a hurry to get going someplace.

S & C & C's Gram said...

I wish all servers would wait right there to take your credit card. In fact, if the servers are too busy, savvy restaurants might assign an official "Hoverer" to do the job.

They would have the added pleasure of watching parties "fight" over who gets to pay the bill.

On the subject, Elizabeth is a waitress now. One party had separate checks, then one girl volunteered to pick up the whole table. Generous? She left no tip! A good "Hoverer" could make sure a tip is left as well! :-P

gee gee said...

Very interesting!!!!

Is it nap time yet? said...

I think the Hover is a great idea because it just stinks when you are ready to go, the waitress has left your bill but takes FOREVER to come back and pick up your creadit card. When I am ready to leave, I want to go so I would love to have a waitress stand there and wait for me to grab my card!

donna said...