When I go out to eat, I have certain hopes for the experience.
We will be greeted soon after walking into the establishment. We will be seated soon or told to the length of the wait. We will be given menus when we are seated and our drink order will be taken without too much wait. Our drinks will arrive without too much of a wait, and generally the drinks shouldn’t be empty for too long or ever. I hope to make our food order not too long after getting our drink order and any appetizers should show up sooner rather than later.
Once the food order shows up, I hope it is cooked to order, all arrives at approximately the same time, and delicious. Must be delicious. The server will usually check in once or twice after the food has arrived to make sure we have everything and it all tastes good. Then eventually show up later with the check and pick up the check without too much delay.
I try to temper my expectations. A fast food establishment isn’t going to be as delicious as a high end establishment and a high end establishment is not going to be as focused on huge portions as the fast food establishment.
However, we have one place that breaks all the rules. I have come to expect them to break the rules.
Servers are generally ambivalent, slow, and varying degrees of friendly ranging from not friendly to non-existent. The food is always good. Which is why I keep going back. But I know better than to ask for anything other than what I am being given. And if I need anything, I know I can get it myself. And I do. I have seen where they keep most of their supplies and if I need something, I go get it myself.
This might seem extreme, but truly, they do not care. Servers have watched me get up and grab a high chair for my toddler, extra napkins, and refill my own water, get condiments, utensils, and menus. They all watch and say nothing. They are completely ambivalent to me and my resourcefulness.
Previously this establishment has frustrated me to no end. But now, I have tempered my expectations to know, I do it myself and I am better for it.
How do you temper your expectations? Do you prepare yourself for the moments when you know your expectations are too high? When you are consistently dissatisfied with an experience, do you change your expectations to be ready for dissatisfaction and take action?
Shouldn’t you be able to do better than silently suffering?