Actually I’m neither. But with Ross being out of town this week, I thought I’d step up to the plate with some serious fluff. Here goes.
Some time about three or four years ago, if I remember correctly, every waitron in every mid-level restaurant in America got a memo that instructed them to inquire about the satisfaction of their customers’ meals with the words, “How’s everything tasting?”
Without getting into the details of gerund abuse or misplaced modifiers or what have you, which I’d probably mess up anyway since I’ve long forgotten how to diagram sentences, can we please address this? When I’m enjoying my meal I don’t want to be confused by being asked to consider whether the items on my plate have taste buds, or how they feel about the meal. (This is especially disconcerting to carnivores.)
This bugged me so much I actually started recording the places I encountered it, because I wondered if it was just a local/midwestern thing. Alas, no. I’ve also heard it in Chicago, New York, Vancouver, Charleston, Nashville, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, and numerous places in-between.
So, what gives? Why did this happen? Where was the tipping point? Is it too late to reverse the course? Who sent that first memo, and how do we get that person flogged with a number-two pencil?
This is relevant to Northfield because it’s well known that a large percentage of people serving as wait staff are college students, or high school graduates who ought to have at least a passing familiarity with their mother tongue. Every restaurant here is guilty of employing wait staff who routinely use this inane phrase. Teachers and professors, only you have the power to correct this egregious error. A mere blog entry cannot do it, the task is too great. Will you help save my sanity and rise to the challenge?
I’m not a purist looking for formality; “Is everything okay?” or “How is everything?” would do me just fine. But please, no more “How’s everything tasting?”