This blog is highly personal, makes no attempt at being politically correct, will occasionaly offend your sensibility, and certainly does not represent the opinions of the people I work with or for.
The glass with the bill inside

This evening, went to a French, almost posh, restaurant at Covent Garden, with Aubrey and a friend from Hong Kong that we had not seen for a couple of years. And today's episode of "Pascal likes playing with other people minds" is about a waitress, her boss, and few customers.

When came the time for her to ask which drinks we wanted, and upon discovering that none of us would take any wine, she started to remove the extra cutleries and take away all the tall wine glasses. Approaching her hand to the glass in front of me, she saw that I was hanging to it and would not let it go. She said "Ho, I am sorry, are you going to drink wine ?", and I said "no, I won't". She then looked at me and said, "So can I have the glass ?", and I replied, "I would rather keep it because I like playing with those tall glasses..."

She looked at me, I plugged my eyes in hers, and I could see that the following happened in her mind.

  • [First tenths of second]: This guy is crazy.
  • [Subsequent half a second]: Oh no, he is not. There was no trace of confusion in his voice. He looked at me with kindness when saying this and in fact he said the entire thing like someone who is accustomed to give orders and does not expect discussions about them. There wasn't arrogance in his voice, just... assertiveness; the right amount of it, he even smiled. What we have here is... a VIP.

Noticing that she had reached some kind of mental conclusion about me, I added at her attention "Don't worry about the glass, I won't break it", with the smile of someone about to do something naughty. Her attitude and posture towards me suddenly shifted and from that point she gave me "Sir" until the end, and was particularly attentive to me.

After that, later during the meal, there has been a very heated discussion (in French) between myself and her boss about the food I had ordered, and I also won a staring contest against another customer, late fifties, who was pondering the presence of a black guy in his favourite restaurant (I am only guessing that the place was his favourite restaurant), and probably never loses staring contests when he looks at his employees. He broke eye contact and simply could not look at me again. (The key to win staring contests is to empty your mind. A calm mind has much more power over other people thoughts than anything else. People will be, instinctively, trying to take control of your own thoughts, but then will realise that there is nothing to take control of. At that point, they won't know what to do, will panic, break down, lose their concentration to fragmentation, and you gain a life long psychological advantage on them).

After the food argument, the waitress was avoiding my look, so I asked her to come, asked her where she came from (Latvia), answered her own questions about me, and promptly mentioned that I really liked the new meal she had ordered to replace the first one, as well as her attentive service. She came back into that very mode, made sure my table was perfect, and smiled. I was back in control.

Near the end of our stay, I rolled a bill (a big one), and put it in the wine glass (Aubrey tried to steal the money but I came up with something to have it back...), and put it back in the glass. The glass (now no longer empty) had then been seen by another waitress and I saw the three of them, the two waitresses and the boss, discussing about whether or not, the problematic customer of the night (me), wasn't in fact playing them and was not about to give a big tip (arguably the biggest of the evening). I overheard the boss saying that they should wait until the end and see what he (me) does with the money.

As Aubrey, our friend, and myself were leaving, I came to the waitress with the glass in my hand, the bill inside it, and told her "As promised, I give it back to you, unbroken". I should have payed more attention to what she was thinking at that point, but turning on my feet the boss was already behind me, asking me to come back soon :-)

Of course, that money wasn't lost. It was an investment. An investment against particular "favours", when I will be coming back. Food is a religion to me, I might as well recruit people dedicated to my cause (^.^)