I've noticed a trend lately where servers share personal life details during the meal. I'm from the South, and this is not a high end dining area. I usually cook at home, but I will most often when eating out take my teen and college aged son out for dinner or college students who work on the newspaper. Also, I might take my Mom and new step Dad. (Thought a bit of background might help.)
Last weekend, I took my son and a friend to a seafood "camp" place. The server mentioned that she was from Texas, she had just left her husband and that she has four kids. Her kids are 7, 5 and twins age 16 months. Yes. Really, I got that much detail.
A couple of other examples:
1. Server asked if he could ask a question. OK. "Am I doing a good job?" I told him that he was. He then said, "I'm sure trying, but that table over there stiffed me on the tip. Nothing. Nada. I thought I did a good job."
2. Another server told me that his girlfriend was just diagnosed with MS. He said that he was not sure what they were going to do on insurance.
3. Server started to cry. I asked, "Are you OK?" She said the credit card reader was down, so the table beside us got mad and did not tip. She hoped I was not using a credit card. I had planned to, but I had cash on me, so I was able to pay the tab and a good tip.
4. Went to register to pay at chain. Server came over. She said someone else was on register and that her co-workers were slack as heck and stuck her with everything. "I need to find another job. This one INSERT BAD WORD."
As I mentioned, I do usually cook at home. My cooking is better than restaurants in this area. When I go out, I would like to relax. In all the cases above, the servers were young. My kids are in that age range, and my students are as well. My tips are high regardless. Some may disagree (based on the stories), but I appreciate young people working and jugglling other things like school or perhaps a young family.
I've been tempted to whisper quietly, "Keep it professional." Younger ones at chains probably are just temp in the field though. Perhaps they do not share life stories at all tables. I really don't know. I'm an easy diner who tips well, but it is hard to relax when I hear a "heavy" story at the table. I've only seen this in the last year or so. Any thoughts?