Monday, September 29, 2008

Understanding Rien Avant

Just water, please. No, nothing to start. I like it well done. Miss, we have a show to catch. Excuse me! More coffee! Can I have something else instead of potato?

If you've ever worked in a restaurant, you'll know what I'm trying to say. You understand the delicate balance of trying to please the customer, avoid agitating the chef and refrain from throwing red wine in someone's face. Working in the service industry allows you to see the truth of a person's soul. You can measure the generosity, compassion, understanding and patience of a person by how they behave in a restaurant and treat the server. It is appalling to see how some people will speak to a server. The server is essentially a stranger, and yet a customer feels entitled to address them in a way they would never consider speaking to any other stranger.

Rien avant is not necessarily a simple lack of an appetizer. Rien avant is often accompanied by: water with lemon and lots of ice, refills of coffee before and during the meal, requests for extra bread, no dessert, and a ten percent tip. This creates the most work for the server with undeniably the least reward. Often, a rien avant type of person will ask your name, constantly make lame jokes with you, sometimes trick you into a false sense of security and rapport. They will mislead you into thinking they like you, appreciate your service, and pretend to leave you with an acceptable gratuity.

However, this is not to say rien avant will always leave you with a sense of deep resentment and confusion. Rien avant can mean no appetizers, but a cocktail to start and then a bottle of wine. These people may like to savour only one course, but the extras add up to remind you that some people do have class, respect and a polite attitude when dining in public.

At any rate, the service industry is definitely challenging, tiring, frustrating and demeaning. It can also be financially worthwhile, hilarious, interesting and rewarding. Rien Avant is about spreading compassion, humour and understanding for the hardworking souls who bring your drinks, serve your food, clear your plates and wipe your tables.

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