June 14, 2014
Here’s a humor thing of the sort I sometimes write. You know, the sort that isn’t very funny. Enjoy
A restaurant with three Michelin stars is now trying to up its customer service game by Googling its customers before they arrive. According to a report from Grub Street, an Eleven Madison Park maitre d’ performs Internet recon on every guest in the interest of customizing their experiences.
Casey Johnson, April 13, 2014, Ars Technica
[SCENE: Interior of the entryway of an upscale restaurant. A large LCD panel on a side wall announces that it is Chez Henri. A casually elegant maitre d’ welcomes a couple dressed for a night out.]
Don: Hello, we have a reservation for…
Maître d': Welcome, Ms. and Monsieur Hartman.
Don: Wow. Um, I’m Don Hartman…
Maître d': Indeed! We’re so pleased you have chosen to dine with us tonight.
[Maître d’ claps twice at the LCD. It now reads "Chez Randi & Don."]
Don: Oh, that seems a bit much.
Maître d': Ah, on a normal night, yes, absolutely. But when Randi Hartman née Fox, co-director of the Rockvale Chamber of Commerce, shows up with Donald Hartman, Revco’s newly appointed Regional Manager of Operations, on her arm, within one week of their fifteenth wedding anniversary…
Don: I don’t think I mentioned any of that when I made the reservation.
Maître d': You’ve barely changed, Ms. Hartman, if I may say so.
Randi: Thank you. I guess.
Maître d': So we have tonight decided to adjust our menu to accommodate the difference in tastes exhibited in the — if I may — struggle at your wedding between the contemporary Japanese hors d’oeuvres and the classic French entrees.
[Claps twice at the LCD panel which updates to say "Chez Randi & Don: NY’s Finest Sushi-Poisson Fusion Restaurant.]
Maître d': As for the salad with mandarin oranges, we’ll just let that go by as a courteous response to a well-meaning new in-law.
[As they are taken to their seats, another couple enters and the LCD panel changes to display "Pat & Miriam’s Yeehaw Chopsticks: NY’s Finest Szechuan-Longhorn Fusion Restaurant"]
[SCENE: Don and Randi are seated at a table. Their waiter steps up.]
Marcus: Hello, Ms. and Mr. Hartman. I’m Marcus, and I’ll be your server tonight. May I offer you a cocktail on the house to celebrate your anniversary and also your reaching the half-way point in paying off your mortgage?
Don: Really? I didn’t realize…
Marcus: Halfway in terms of the number of payments, but unfortunately you won’t hit the halfway mark in the total amount you owe for another 3 years and two months. Do come back to us then!
Randi: That’s very kind of you and simultaneously chilling. I’ll have a …
Marcus: Dirty martini. Tanqueray. Three olives. Very cold.
Randi: Why, yes…but…
Marcus: Dumb luck. There was a thirty-five percent chance tonight was going to be a Cosmo night. Shall I queue up a Cosmo for cocktail #2?
Randi: Oh, I hardly ever have two…
Marcus: No need for pretense here at Chez Randi and Don. We can just accept who we are. In fact, I’ll make that a double. And for you, sir, your usual?
Don: Usual? I’ve never been here before…
Marcus: Of course, but you have cookies turned on in your browser. Firefox. Excellent choice. By the way, you’re two upgrades behind, which I wouldn’t mention except that the latest update has important security patches. Let me know if you’d like me to take care of that. [sotto voce] (I’ll clear your browser history while I’m there. Seriously.)
Randi: I have to say that I’m finding this pretty creepy…
Marcus: I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize you’re so uncomfortable with yourself.
Randi: That’s not the point…
Marcus: I’ll be right back with your drinks.
Randi [fiddling with her phone]: My signal sucks. Can I borrow your phone?
[Lights quickly fade and return. Marcus is taking their order.]
Marcus: And I assume that you would like your fillet medium rare, and with no onions anywhere on the plate, or preferably anywhere in the entire restaurant, haha. I know how you feel about onions, Mr. Hartman! And for you, Ms. Hartman, may I recommend something that will help you get into the size six dress you bought three months ago? By the way, I was able to reach your bathroom scale over wifi, but the pesky thing keeps insisting on telling the truth, doesn’t it?
Randi: Sure, whatever, Marcus. And since you know everything, perhaps you can tell me how a place with three Michelin stars would ever get a health violation for improperly refrigerating its shellfish.
Marcus [flustered]: What? Oh, that was ages ago…
Randi: November 9, 2012.
Marcus: The thermostat on one of our refrigerators went on the fritz and wouldn’t you know it, that’s the night a city health inspector showed up.
Randi: What are the chances of that? Thirty-five percent?
[Lights quickly fade and return. Antonio is refilling Randi’s water glass]
Randi: Thank you, Antonio.
Antonio: You’re welcome…Wait, how do you know my name?
Randi: I went to your Facebook page. Looks like that new tattoo must have hurt.
Antonio: Uh, thanks. I almost didn’t do it.
Randi: Well, Martina seems like a nice woman. Strong.
Antonio: You don’t know the half of it.
Randi: Are you sure about that? Let me ask you something. Did the restaurant tell you anything about my husband and me?
Antonio: No, not really. Just to be super-sure that your silverware is set perfectly straight, and that your bread basket has to stay full of sweet rolls no matter how many you chow down because your blood sugar is dipping below 80.
Randi: Anything else?
Antonio: Well, just that if you think we’re treating you different because you’re a woman, you’ll go ballistic.
Randi: So, they called me a bi…
Antonio: No, no. Although it’s true your avatar in our system is a pig with a stick up its butt. We hardly ever use that one.
[Lights quickly fade and return. Marcus is back and the dinner plates are being cleared.]
Marcus: And how was everything? Were the Julienne potatoes not to your liking, Randi, or was the portion just too big? I can assure you that the serving size is precisely the same as we offer to people with penises.
Randi: So you talked with Antonio.
Marcus: Let’s just say some texts were exchanged. Oh, don’t worry. You’re not going to have to give another $40 to the ACLU to protect him. By the way, you might consider upping your contribution, although that might mean you’d have to give up your subscription to Us Weekly. Us? Really? Not even People?
Randi: So, you want to do this, Marcus? I wonder how your 57 Twitter followers would feel about learning that MyOwnMan32 lives at home, hasn’t found a hair growth hoax he hasn’t fallen for, and writes erotic Harry Potter fan fiction under the name "Hermiones_Nipple"?
Marcus: You want to go Twitter on me? I’ll go Twitter all over your Spanx-wearing heinie. I will tweet you out so hard that Facebook’s timeline will run in reverse. Just try me, the former Most Likely to Smell Like Sperm.
Randi: That was a mean yearbook comment in high school! That’s not even on the Internet!
Marcus: You want to keep it that way, or do you want to take me on, bitch?
Randi: You do not want to unleash the kraken, my friend. I know where you live. I know who you’re stalking and why she calls you The Leaker. I know the real reason you gave the Fergus Slim Flashlight only one star at Amazon — funny review, by the way. I know why you can never go back to Rum Bay Beach in the Turks and Caicos. I even have a pretty good idea of exactly where to dig.
Marcus: Oh, you think you know alllll about me, do you, Ms. twice-a-week personal-zone waxer, you repeat-instant-replayer of that scene in House of Cards, you know which one. We are a fucking three star restaurant, lady. We don’t just do a Google search and call it a day as if were some goddamn house of pancakes. We do our research the way we prepare our Truite Sauté Sauce Amere: with a thoroughness that burns through sous chefs as if they were cheap votary candles. We’ve already named the constellations of the moles on your back, and we’ve alerted your primary care physician that M44, the Beehive Cluster, needs immediate attention. We know not only your past boyfriends, but have some statistical confidence about who the next one will be. A word to the wise, Don, there’s a point at which a family accountant is paying just too much attention to deposits and withdrawals, if you know what I mean. So, Randi-with-an-i since 1996, if you want to play, you better bring your game, because you are frankly an amateur playing in the big leagues of Knowing You.
Don [putting his hand on Randi’s]: It’s not worth it, sweetie.
Randi: But I could…
Don: I know you could, but he’s not worth it.
Marcus: Excellent choice. Now, [smiling] can I get you some dessert?
[Pause a beat.]
Randi [timidly closing the dessert menu]: Surprise us.