Friday, July 15, 2005

Proper channels

A scene absolutely typical of Spain: we stopped in a bar the other day for a cup of coffee (bars in Spain being the sorts of places where one gets not only alcoholic drinks but good espresso, snacks, and fresh-squeezed orange juice). In some places a waiter will come take your order, but in most you need to go ask at the bar, especially if you’re only ordering drinks. We sat at a table and waited a few minutes, but as the waitress was busy with other tables in the back, and particularly since the coffee machine was behind the bar, Mr. P/H went to the bartender.

Mr. P/H: Hi, could we have two coffees please?

Bartender: No, no, wait, the waitress will come take your order.

Mr. P/H: Oh, okay, thanks.

He returns. We sit; we wait. Waitress ignores us.

After a while, Mr. P/H returns to the bar: Could we just have two coffees?

Bartender: No, no, wait, the waitress will take your order. [Yells at the waitress: Carmen! Table three!]

Waitress approaches: Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you. What would you like?

Mr. P/H: Two coffees, please.

Waitress (without moving) yells at bartender: Two coffees!

Bartender, satisfied, goes to the espresso machine and makes us coffee.

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