Today I went out to lunch at a really nice restaurant by myself. I don’t get a chance to go out to eat very often without being accompanied by two short people who prefer either hamburgers or chicken nuggets followed by a chaser of can-we-go-I’m-tired-I-hate-this-place-I-want-pizza-instead.
As you can imagine, it was quite liberating to be alone.
I was not very dressed up (standard momiform: shorts and a slightly wrinkled semi-clean t-shirt, natch), and the restaurant was absolutely packed; and yet the service was still quite good. From the exact moment I sat down and whisked out my notepad to balance my checkbook and plan my future party menu, I received fabulous service.
Stellar service, in fact.
The waiter was attentive. The 26 busboys kept my water glass full and jumped at the chance to retrieve my dropped fork and procure a new one immediately. Random waitresses who were not even assigned my section came by to check on me, at the risk of ignoring their own customers at tables in their sections. The manager brought me more freshly-baked rolls without me even asking.
I started to get suspicious when the complimentary champagne arrived and the chef came out to see how I was enjoying my salad. Other diners in the restaurant turned to stare at the chef in his giant poufy chef hat while he stood there smiling, nodding, and waiting for me to take another bite. I was waiting for him to leave; I was afraid he might try to take a photo of me.
Another manager I had not previously seen appeared out of nowhere with a showcase dessert that was “on the house.”
My brain relayed a little message to me: MOV! MOV, you idiot! They think you are a secret shopper!
For the uninitiated, a secret shopper is someone paid by the restaurant (or airline, hotel, or high-end kitchen store) to come in and pose as a customer to judge the quality of the service and report the results back to the corporate headquarters. 99% of the time, the secret shopper is by himself/ herself (it is difficult to do the ratings when you have a friend distracting you). 99% of the time, the secret shopper will try to inconspicuously scribble little notes so he/ she can do a thorough and accurate report.
Me by myself eating out alone + notepad = secret shopper! Secret shopper = fab service!
I was having a very very good time, and then I paid my bill and it was time to leave. I was basking in the entire royal experience of being waited on hand and foot when I decided to stop in the ladies' room. After I was finished, I couldn’t help but notice that the toilet automatically flushed itself.
Even the toilet knows who I am.