A middle-aged man, who until yesterday had taken every aspect of modern-day customer service with a bulldozer of salt, has admitted he was wrong after finding eternal friendship with an over-friendly chain restaurant waiter.
During a rare evening meal out with his wife at Pasta Pasta in Dorking, Surrey, 42-year-old Ed Geller abandoned his trademark cynicism and instead engaged 22-year-old Marek from Slovakia in the inane, awkward chit chat his boss’s bosses force him to make with customers. ‘I don’t know what came over me,’ said Geller, who normally has to suppress the urge to deck staff who squeeze enquiries about his health and immediate plans into the morning black Americano routine.
‘I decided to tell Marek that actually things weren’t that great at the moment. You see, I’d just been overlooked for a promotion yet again, the boiler had packed in and to top it all, my three-year-old son’s infected penis had been keeping him – and the whole family – awake every night of the week. To my surprise, Marek seemed to understand it all and offered words of great wisdom and comfort whilst recommending the most expensive wine on the menu.’
Having served the starters and counselled Geller on mid-career stagnation, plumbing for beginners and infantile knob rot, Marek returned with the main course: ravioli in a rich lobster sauce and a pep talk about coping with baldness. Several rounds of champagne cocktails for all customers and staff later and it was time for desert.
‘By the time Marek had brought out the panna cotta and encouraged me to wear a skinnier cut of jeans, I’d realised I couldn’t live without him,’ Geller explained through tears. ‘He was more than a friend: he was my life coach – though he did completely vanish shortly after I’d settled the 800 quid bill. I thought that was a little strange at first, given the plans we’d made for our life together. But as they say, you don’t notice good service.’