Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Service with a Smile?

Waiters and service people in Italy tend to be quite personable and friendly. Although the speed and rhythm of the service is different from what you would expect in the States (translate that as "slower"), I usually have little to complain about. But, then again, maybe I have just been here so darn long that my standards have changed...

BUT (as Peewee Herman once said, "everyone I know has a big 'but'"), I do have one complaint I'd like to set forth at this time. It drives me nuts when I have a comment to make about something I've been served, and the service person tells me I'm mistaken.

Case in point. Today I met up with a friend at a lovely bar on the harbour for a coffee. She ordered an espressino freddo, which is a sort of ice-cream-like concoction with blended and frozen coffee and milk.

Looks good, doesn't it?

I ordered what should have been a much simpler drink to prepare: cold coffee. Do I need to explain what it is? Coffee, previously brewed, then sweetened and stuck in the fridge to get cold. Pretty simple, huh?

And tasty, too. Usually. Not today. I think they forgot to sweeten it before they chilled it. Or maybe they did some other strange coffee procedure...one definitely not involving sugar. It was as bitter as plain black coffee.

So, no problem. I figured I'd just get some sugar and sweeten it up for myself. I did not even ask the waiter to do this for me. I got up from our outdoor table, walked into the bar and politely asked for some packets of sugar, since, I explained, the coffee was a bit bitter.

"That's impossible!" said the waiter. "There's coffee ice in it and that's pure sugar!" He reiterated this several times...animatedly.

Okay, great. There's coffee ice in it. But, for me, it's still bitter. Can I just have some sugar please? It's not like I was complaining. It's not like I asked for a refund. Or threw the bitter potion in your face, or anything.

And, excuse me? I'm mistaken? How can I be mistaken? I'm the customer...I'm always right. Right? Apparently not. Apparently that little service motto has not made it down to the heel of the boot.


Dana said...

Ummm. . . I'm not so sure that it's predominant up here either. I often feel that it's pretty much an American phenomenom.

Saretta said...

It's a pity!

Romerican said...

Love this post, I totally understand you! I get this kind of attitude all the time in Rome and am always (despite being here for 12 years) surprised by it.