Advantage of Knowing Waiter's Name

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 7, 2005

Dear Editor,
    "I hate chummy waiters. I don't want to know a waiter's name, and I don't want them to know mine" [“Split Parties,” Food, Nov. 4].
    As a waiter for going on 14 years now, I can honestly categorize Mick Vann's article as one the most dead-on I've seen penned on the topic of tipping and food service. I must, however, take issue with the idea that it is somehow an unwelcome advance into personal territory for a server to reveal his or her name to a guest. Speaking for myself, the impetus behind the first-name basis with a table has, for the most part, to do with a concern for the party's ability to contact me via other staff when I'm otherwise occupied. If the table is unaware of my name, all bets are off as to whether they can communicate to a busy staff member that they need extra butter, a new bottle of wine, or a myriad other concerns that can suddenly crop up during a night out. Of course, we do our best to anticipate these issues before we have to turn our attention elsewhere on especially busy nights – but if I'm taking an order three tables over and Table 12 desperately needs their check, they'll have a much easier time asking the hostess to grab "Ryan" than "that brown-haired guy." I feel like I've, at this point, got a decent handle on who would and who wouldn't like to be "chummy" with me, and I honestly strive to make every diner's evening with me to be a beneficial (for both of us) experience. My personal introduction is not an attempt to tread onto your treasured space – it's a sincere effort to serve you better.
Ryan Newsum
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