Media Clips of the 20th Century


Media Clips of the 20th Century

The 20th Century’s Media Moments

Dec. 7, 1999

The results of The Podium‘s second poll are complete. The question was, ”

name the three most memorable media moments of this century.”This time we received a whopping 11 responses (2 fewer than last time). Statistically, of course, this is an inconsequential sample size. However, this is not a scientific enterprise, but rather an opportunity to think about the events of our century, so sample size is irrelevant.

The limitations of this question are fairly obvious. We are most closely touched by those events that are within living memory, and by those events which the media has chosen to repeat ad infinitum. I’m therefore surprised more entertainment moments weren’t chosen.

The results:

First Place – (a 2-way tie)

The Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination (5 votes)

Abraham Zapruder serendipitously pointed his home movie camera at one of the most devastating scenes in American history, capturing the very moment that President John F. Kennedy was shot to death, supposedly by lone gunman Oswald.

No other event in the modern era has spawned more conspiracy theories, or has better exemplified the growing distrust of Western societies for our elected leaders.

The Zapruder film was obtained by an enterprising Southern district attorney who brought to court the only trial of perpetrators accused of JFK’s murder. Both the film and that trial were immortalised in Oliver Stone’s feature movie JFK.

Paul Henderson’s winning goal in the 1972 hockey series between Canada and the USSR (5 votes)

It is interesting that a sports event would rank as highly as the assassination of the so-called leader of the free world. But this event transcended sports and touched upon geopolitics. At the height of the Cold War, an era whose tone and timbre are barely imaginable by the youth of today, the conflict that we all feared was instead played out on ice between the national hockey teams of Canada and the Soviet Union.

After games in Canada and Russia, punctuated by hotel room buggings and threats of incarceration, the final game was played in Moscow and decided by a timely overtime goal by Canadian Paul Henderson.

Simply watching videos of the game is insufficient to appreciate the tension of the moment. One must also consider the international scenario that made such a game compelling in the first place… a far cry from today’s almost border-less international NHL.

Second Place – (a 3-way tie)

Images from the Gulf War (4 votes)

The most televised U.S.-involved conflict since the Vietnam War, the Gulf War was seen as an opportunity to “do it right”. With carefully controlled public access to footage, the Pentagon crafted a marvelous media collage of faultless weaponry and bloodless battle.

Most memorable were the on-board cameras’ views of missile impacts onto Iraqi targets, providing wonderful advertising material for arms dealers worldwide.

The War lifted CNN into the position it presently enjoys, as the leading news source for the planet, and made stars of reporters like Arthur Kent, the “scud stud.”

Less discussed is the footage of the bombardment of the city of Baghdad, surreal in its science-fiction lighting.

Neil Armstrong walking on the moon (4 votes)

There are many people, myself among them, who believe that 1000 years from now, this century will be remembered for only two things, one of them being the birth of space travel (the other being nuclear power).  Humanity’s trip to the moon, 30 years later, still represents the pinnacle of technology.

For tens of thousands of years, the moon has been the realm of mythology, a disc of light pinned to the sky by giants or gods. When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, humanity was forced to mature, to pull ourselves out of the mire of mythology. The event remains a landmark of our modern era in which science equals, and perhaps surpasses, religion in the hearts of many.

The explosion of the Challenger space shuttle (4 votes)
It’s interesting that this event would equal the moon landing in prominence in our memories. Perhaps there is a lesson here: that we must accept the triumphs of our courage and cleverness along with the tragedies and failures that will unerringly accompany them.

The explosion of Challenger is doubly tragic since it was to represent the first instance of a private citizen going into space. The mission’s failure was a reminder to many that space remains an untamed frontier fraught with dangers unimaginable to we gravity-bound denizens.

Third Place – (4-way tie)

JFK Jr saluting at his father’s funeral (2 votes)

This image is even more memorable for the death of John-John himself earlier this year. More probably, we remember this portrait for its representation of the end of the golden era of Camelot, a realization poisoned with uncertainty but tempered by the hope of youth.

Photos and film footage of WWII concentration camps (2 votes)
Socio-politically one of the most important events of the century, the discovery of these camps and the skeletal remains of their victims would have dwindled in public memory and impact had it not been for the presence of cameras. Because of the immortality of images, these horrors will never be forgotten.
Terry Fox running across Canada (2 votes)

The heroes of other lands tend to be great leaders or warriors. It is indicative of the Canadian stereotype that our hero is a soft-spoken one-legged man running across the country to raise money for cancer research. I encourage everyone to consult Joseph Campbell‘s hero motif and apply his criteria to Terry Fox… you will find that, despite his lack of a booming voice and fiery sword, Terry is a hero in the finest mythic tradition.

Kim Phuc running from her village in Vietnam after napalm had burned the clothes from her body (2 votes)

Her name has only recently become widely known, largely through Denise Chong’s book The Girl In The Picture. Presently a grown woman living in Canada, Kim Phuc retains the physical scars of the napalm attack. Her photo was one of the most vivid messages to North Americans that the Vietnam War had a human face that was all too innocent.

One vote each:

  • Jacques Parizeau blaming “l’argent et des votes ethniques” in a drunken outburst on referendum night, 1995
  • O.J. Simpson’s White Bronco chase
  • Female student crying over slain compatriot at Kent State University
  • Footage of first atomic bomb explosion in New Mexico
  • Pierre Trudeau flipping the bird to the good people of Salmon Arm, BC. during his final election bid
  • Marilyn Monroe’s billowing skirt
  • Raquel Welch in Barbarella (I think this respondent meant Jane Fonda)
  • Announcement of the killing of 14 female students at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique
  • Photos of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster
  • Evil Knieval jumping Snake River canyon
  • Any photos of Mother Theresa
  • Band-Aid video for African famine
  • Mohammed Ali lighting Atlanta flame
  • Photos of Hiroshima/Nagasaki after the bombing
  • Chimney smoke at the Vatican signaling that a new pope had been chosen
  • Ben Johnson winning the gold medal at Seoul
  • The Hindenburg explosion

I would encourage anyone who has anything to say about these selections, or about my commentary, to write us a letter.


Ray Deonandan



The Role of Government



The Role of Government (Innovation Journal version)

by Raywat Deonandan

August 2, 1999

The original version of this article first appeared in The Newspaper of the University of Toronto on Sep. 27, 1995. The present version was later published in The Innovation Journal under the title, “Should Government Be A Tool of Enterprise?” on November 2, 1999.

In Ontario during the early 1990’s, the socialist provincial government instituted a system of compelled unpaid days for all public employees. This was an attempt to reduce the payrolls and avoid layoffs. A failed experiment that helped sow the seeds for a subsequent hard-right government, this flirtation with voluntary salary restraint inadvertently allowed some perspective into a larger concern: the public perception of the role of government. Continue reading


Women’s Boxing



WOMENS BOXING: One Males Perspective



by Kevin Hilditch

Oct. 1, 1999

On September 18, 1999, I had my first opportunity to view a professional womens boxing match. It was for the Featherweight title. The competitors were Mia St. John (the champ) and Kelley Downey. This was all part of the lineup at an HBO boxing event in Las Vegas featuring Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad. I was very interested in seeing this match because I had heard that womens boxing was much more aggressive than mens boxing. I was very disappointed. Not by the boxing, although it appeared that the women may have lacked in training (perhaps from a lack of sponsors?), but by a number of other elements that I had not bargained for.Firstly, the commentators, in their pre-fight and round-by-round commentary, focused more on the fighters physical appearance, and generally treated the fight as if it were no more than a catfight. Except for George Foreman, who treated the event as a boxing match and not just two women fighting, the commentators were completely unprofessional and disrespectful to the fighters and their abilities. Comments such as “She doesnt want to mess up that pretty face of hers” does not seem to me to be professional round-by-round commentary. What if a commentator in the De La Hoya fight had said “With a great ass like that he cant possibly lose this match!” I think you get my meaning.

Secondly, the match was only four rounds. The only other match that was that length was the purely entertainment showcase featuring the “Super Heavyweight” Butterbean. Im not sure of the reasons for this, but my impression was that the coordinators of the match did not feel that the two women had the endurance or perhaps strength to last the full 12-round fight.

Finally, a match of this calibre, in a pay-per-view event with the highest amount of viewers outside of heavyweight bouts, failed to support the fighters, and instead chose to belittle the womens event. This must be more than frustrating to the boxers, trainers, sponsors, etc., who are all trying to promote a sport that they take very seriously.

Unfortunately, Mia St. John also chose to pose for Playboy Magazine. In my opinion, this is not a way to gain respect for herself as a professional boxer, and not the most intelligent move for her career. This just furthers a perception of women in sport as objects rather than athletes.

My motivation for writing this article? In the Toronto Star newspapers Sept. 30th edition, there is an article about Muhammed Alis daughter Laila going into boxing. What was the headline? – “Alis daughter a knockout.”. For a legend like Ali, having his daughter entering the fray is an incredible event and an opportunity for the legacy to continue… but not with the papers touting it as simply, and in every sense of the word, a spectacle.

This is just another example of the media choosing to condescend rather than to support women entering the male-dominated sport of boxing. It seems to me that the male boxers, commentators, promoters, etc., are either threatened by the possibilty of women being equal to the task of boxing in strength, endurance and ability, or they feel that the only way to sell women in the sport is to portray them in a sexual manner. Or both. This makes me believe and understand that it must be very difficult for women in any sport to be recognized and respected. This is unfortunate and unnecessary.

So heres to George Foreman and anyone who supports these women in their fight to gain the proper recognition they deserve –in this sport and any other. To all others, it is time to overcome your egos and ignorance, and to allow these women their due right to participate.

Kevin Hilditch is a Shiatsu massage therapist in Toronto. He lost $10 on the De La Hoya fight.




Alternative or Complementary Therapies



Alternative or Complementary Therapies


by Kevin Hilditch
August 25, 1999

*This article is written to address certain issues, positive and negative, about the field of complementary therapies and its relationship to Western medical practice.*


There are a wide variety of therapies available to the consumer: Massage therapy, Shiatsu, Reflexology, Rolfing, Therapeutic Touch, Craniosacral, Polarity, LomiLomi, Reiki, Accupuncture. And the list goes on and on and on.

Over the last few years, there has been a great interest in these types of therapies. The reasons for this are varied, but the consensus of most is that the public’s fascination is due to a lack of support from the Alopathic field of “Western” medicine. More simply put, either emotionally or physically, people are looking beyond the usual scope of medical practice for answers to their problems.

Unfortunately, for the most part, there is a lack of empirical or scientific evidence supporting most of the complementary therapies. Funding for mainstream medical research is almost always backed by, or on behalf of, pharmaceutical companies or certain government bodies. Holistic therapies pose a threat to these companies by their very nature; the focus is being taken away from medication and put onto other means of healing. The lack of scientific evidence is therefore self-explanatory.

The irony in all of this is that, in order to be accepted by the public, the unexplained mysteries of each therapy generally require some sort of scientific explanation. Also, because of therapy costs, insurance companies tend to back only those therapies that they feel pose as little risk as possible. To determine such degrees of risk requires research. Unless the individual has the funds to continue treatments on an ongoing basis, which is the usual prescription to recovery, he or she needs to rely upon insurance companies for support.

Due to these reasons, the therapist and his practice are limited to faith, and faith alone, for empirical support. People are looking for explanations beyond their physician, but still tend to require medical explanations to commit to something outside of the Alopathic realm to which they are accustomed.

The problems stem from the fact that the practices of most of the complementary therapies have little alopathic evidence to support their various claims. In addition, the knowledge and practical experience required to treat tends to be limited. Furthermore, without official recognition by the government in the form of a standard registration or certification process, there is no system in place to keep their practices in check.

Granted, the medical establishment has a long way to go before the human body and its various pathologies are fully understood. But, the mainstream knowledge already accumulated is necessary to complement and support the findings of the “alternative” therapies. Without it, claims can be made, and have been made, which may not be true.

Titles, unless already registered, can also be used to make the practitioner appear to be more professional. For example, a made up title such as Master Herbologist or M.H., offers the appearance of credibility. A better example would be someone who has attained a 4-year degree and acquired a title such as a Nutritionist as opposed to someone who has taken a weekend course and calls themselves a Nutritional Practitioner (NP); the layperson may not be able to distinguish between the two titles and be treated for a condition which the latter therapist would not be able to fully comprehend or effectively treat.

This leads me to a more specific issue. There has been some significant research done on the connection between the mind and the body in relation to various disorders and conditions – the most common and widely known being stress. In other words, human emotions and the physical response to them.

Complementary therapies tend to accept the emotional and its accumulating affect on certain conditions more so than the mainstream medical establishment. Some believe that a number of conditions may even be directly related to the emotional state of the individual, or due to certain traumatic events in the patients’ lives. The challenge to the therapist is to treat the emotional as well as the physical. In my own experience, clients have wanted to express specific emotional issues in their lives. This is sometimes easier to do with someone with an objective viewpoint, such as an “alternative healer”, rather than with a friend or family member, and can therefore be therapeutic for the client.

The danger is in treating the emotional to a degree that is beyond your scope of practice. Or, to believe that a problem rests purely in the emotional; i.e., the only reason there is no improvement is that the person is not willing to ” let go” , is “blocking” or does not have enough faith in the treatment. This, I believe, can be a way to explain something medical that the therapist does not fully understand. Therein lies the danger. The job of the therapist is not to diagnose but to treat according to a physician’s assessment; to complement their decisions.

In conclusion, it is important for a complementary therapist or practitioner to understand our limitations. We are taught only a limited amount of knowledge. What we learn may give new insight into a condition, and give credence to something that may not have been previously believed to be a treatable or workable method to recovery. ( Or not.) These insights may not be an accepted standard of mainstream medical knowledge, but may be just as valid a form of treatment. Yet, in order to be accepted by the general public, it is also necessary to complement homeopathic, naturopathic, and holistic research and therapy with alopathic research and practice.

The consumer should consider these things. Documentation attesting to the education, experience, and type of practice of the therapist should be made available to the patient. Also, one treatment or therapist may not hold all the answers to regaining good health. Each individual is different and may require different forms of treatment. Unfortunately, governments and insurance companies seem to set the standard for what is considered “valid” forms of treatment.

On the other hand, in order to practice in North America and to be accepted on a wide scale, these standards must be embraced. The truth of the matter is that alternative treatment must truly be complementary, and not an alternative to mainstream medicine at all, but each as a specialty and a complement to each other.

Kevin Hilditch is a Certified Shiatsu Practitioner and a big fan of Ray Deonandan’s hair.



Devil’XXX AdvocateXXX




The Devils Advocates take a long hard look at pornography…



by The Devils Advocates
August 24, 1999


Welcome to our oddly-titled article! You were maybe looking for naked women, schoolgirls, sheep? We thought so… And we fooled ya! This is an article about pornography. By placing pornography buzzwords in the title this article comes (no pun intended) up a lot more often on search engines all over the world! And now that we’ve got you, why not stay awhile? Don’t worry, the naked ladies aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be waiting for you when you’re done.

Let’s start with a definition of pornography, from the Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Function: noun
Etymology: Greek pornographos (adjective) writing about prostitutes,
from porn (prostitute) + graphein (to write)
Date: circa 1864
1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (films, pictures, videos, writing)
intended to cause sexual excitement
2 : material (films, pictures, videos, writing) containing depictions of erotic behavior intending to cause sexual excitement
3 : the reason for adolescent boys to spend prolonged periods of time in the bathroom alone, and for adolescent girls to spend prolonged periods of time riding horses

Nothing inspires humankind like pornography. Paintings, literature, technology… Pornography, or “porno” is at the forefront of all of them. Why the Gutenburg Press? So we could all subscribe to Playboy, of course. Why the industrial revolution? So the new middle class could have more time to wank. Why the race for space? So we could have orbiting satellites delivering 61 channels of Swedish Erotica!

Just as our civilization has been shaped by porno, so too have our individual lives. Every young man remembers the excitement of discovering his dad’s stroke book stash, entering a new, forbidden world where cheerleaders don’t wear underwear, artists paint in the nude, and dental hygienists hanglide topless. As for young women… Well, we don’t know. We’re guessing, maybe, Judy Bloom books?

For young people, the only danger in “the left-handed read” is getting caught, a fear that can shape the performance of a man in bed for years to come — “There’s no time for foreplay, my mom might catch us!”.

The Law of Averages dictates you do get caught eventually; hey, it happens to everybody. Girls can rest with assurance that their fathers won’t call them on it; after all, people who live in glass houses… Even at the very worst, they can justify their stroke books as erotica. But boys don’t have it so good. When their mothers ask “Do you like looking at pictures of naked ladies?”, don’t bother saying anything. There is no correct answer.

Eventually as we grow up we evolve from faded, dog-eared magazine pages to the wonderful world of video! Thanks to the arrival of the VCR, not only can you turn your living room into a home movie theatre, but into your own private peep show booth too, and without the annoying need for pocketfuls of loose change. Just walk through the swinging doors or maze-like entrance into the “Adults Only” section of your local video store, and gaze at the Cornucopia of Creativity on display — The movie titles, not the plots.

Diddler on the Roof, Field of Reams, Dun Her, On Golden Blonde, Position Impossible, Poke-A-Hot-Ass, The Littlest Furmaid, Cockman and Throbbin, For Your Thighs Only, Bang The Bum Slowly, Forrest Hump, Vaginatown, WETness, and Free Willy. Clever puns on famous movie titles mask the endless repetition of the same plot: Guy meets girl, girl bends over, girl not wearing underwear, guy goes with it. To give the auteurs of this fine work credit, there are only so many variations on this theme.

Though the theme stays the same, at least the faces – well, not faces per se, but you know what we mean – give these erotic opi (i.e. sex films) some variety. So many young starlets head to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune, then wind up in some guy’s back room trying to act on six-inch heels. And if they can’t, no matter: There’s usually a sticky couch well within falling distance.

If you tire of mechanical sameness or take exception to extreme close-ups of human anatomy, perhaps the hardcore porn of San Fernando valley isn’t for you. Instead you can fire up your local foreign language channel and catch the best of European Erotica. Twenty minutes of gibberish, two minutes of moaning, and maybe a breast, probably a man’s…

And if that’s too much for your weak heart, there’s always those “How to Make Love Gooder” tapes. You don’t need to stuff these babies into your trenchcoat; you can carry them with dignity out the door of your local video rental joint: “I’m no dirty old man… I’m saving my marriage! And if that means looking at greased-up Playmates simulating intercourse then so be it!”. Even the fundamental folk at Blockbuster Video, the type of people who would censor Bambi, carry this flavourless pornographic tapioca. You’ll find out “How Candles Create The Mood”, but you’ll likely wish for better lighting so you could actually see something.

If you’re too embarrassed to have the high-school dropout at the video store think poorly of you (we’re guessing he’s viewed the same titles as you, many times over) don’t fear: Technology will come to your rescue! You don’t have to pass your ID over the counter with a shaky hand, you can surf the ‘net, as if you didn’t already know… Instantaneous worldwide communication? A free public forum for the sharing of ideas? A new electronic medium of expression? How about free porn and plenty of it!

Every possible fetish can be satisfied in cyberspace. Want nudie pics of Drew Barrymore? Visit Want nudie pics of Drew Barrymore with a lemur? Go to Want to talk about what you saw? Check out Want to see Teri Hatcher with a lemur? You figure it out!

But be forewarned: There is no such thing as free porn. How do you think America Online stays in business? It can hurt you in other ways too; you can lose precious brownie points when the girl of your dreams finds the Big Buttz website bookmarked on your browser.

The biggest cost of all is time. Sitting around waiting to log on, sitting around waiting for confirmation that yes, you are indeed twenty-one, then sitting around waiting for the objects of your desire to download to your screen, then to your computer. Suddenly, dinner and a movie doesn’t seem like such an ordeal. Porn is a waste of time. You waste time getting it, you waste time using it, you’ve wasted time reading this and we’ve wasted time writing it.


The Devils Advocates’ Improv Heaven & Hell airs on The Comedy Network every weekend. Check your local listings!



In response to Mr. Charles Victor



In response to Mr. Charles Victor

from Kevin Hilditch
Aug. 17, 1999

I am pleased that I am getting such impassionate responses such as the letter from Mr. Victor. My intention was just that.

The article was intended as controversial. My beliefs are not spelt out in this article, the information provided are the “truths” of the restaurant business from my own viewpoint. It was not intended to offend but to provoke opinion and perhaps action.

My experience is based upon 12 years as a bartender in a number of restaurants which were and are mainly family oriented or middle-of-the-road establishments. The information in the article is based upon stereotypes and prejudices that I have encountered as a server. I do not or, more aptly put, try not succumb to them.

I was hoping to make those of us who were not aware of the “backstage” of the service industry aware of the actions, intentions and judgements of a number of the restaurant employees I have encountered. I was also hoping to spur reactions and shared experiences of other servers such as Mr. Victor.

The uncomfortable truth is that the servers bring to the job their own prejudices as to race, sex, gender, etc. These prejudices can sometimes find shared beliefs with other employees and become stereotypes. Service that is a reflection of these beliefs is what I am trying to bring to light.

On a more noble note, perhaps the awareness stimulated by myself and servers such as Mr. Victor will act to dispell the myth of generalized traits of patrons due to their culture or sex or age.
My opinion:

  • To servers – what you give out is what you get back!
  • To patrons – Be aware. Be vocal. The customer is ALWAYS right! You pay the money , you should expect the service no matter who you are. (see Part II)

To other servers and patrons: I would love to read other letters whether good or bad about your experiences either working or dining at a restaurant.
Kevin Hilditch
Toronto, Ontario




Letter from Charles Victor – August 14, 1999



Restaurant Stereotypes Unfounded

A letter from J. Charles Victor
August 14, 1999

This letter is in response to the article titled Restaurant Etiquette -Part 1 (Aug. 2).

Although I am not normally one to promote the use of stereotypes, Mr. Hilditch has opened the proverbial can of worms, and used them for bait. Well… I will bite.

I disagree with many of the pejorative impressions Mr. Hilditch has created regarding his clients and their tipping habits. I spent four years as both a server and wine steward. Although this clearly does not make me an expert on the hospitality industry, I do agree that there exist “tipping stereotypes”. However, these stereotypes, in my experience, are not as ‘unfortunate’ as Mr. Hilditch would have one believe. Of the stereotypes presented, three stand out as particularly unfounded.

Women: Although it is true that women may not be willing to part with their hard-earned money as easily as men, the key words are “as easily”. I have found that, provided the server actually demonstrates concern for their dining experience, women are quite generous.

British/German/Asians: You may also include the French (both European and Canadian). Again this stereotype may be true for the server that does not know how to deal with the situation. In most European establishments the gratuity is included in the bill. It has been my experience (of which I have a lot – I worked in a HOTEL restaurant) that if the client is told in a non-offensive manner, such as a discrete reminder on the bill in their language, Europeans too are generous tippers. On many occasions I have even been thanked for informing them of our customs, and have never had a upset client because of this. As for French-Canadians, provide them with separate bills without asking – this is often how it is done in Qubec and they expect it to be done everywhere, no matter how long they have been ‘expatriated’. (I know, I am married to one).

Americans: Mr. Hilditch is way off the mark. The Americans, accent or not, are by far the most generous tippers – anywhere from 20 to 200 % after tax. Often they will leave a small amount on the credit card slip, and a large amount with a handshake as they leave. They often believe that we will be taxed on anything traceable. Again, I must stress, the server must adjust to his/her client – Americans love to have fun, so be just as boisterous as they are (I can’t count the number of photographs I have had taken of me by a pleased group of American diners).

In short, Mr. Hilditch should learn a little about his clients – a “hello” in each of their languages, and certainly how to say “the tip is not included”. Most of all, care for their well-being and have fun with them no matter how busy you are and you will be rich. Finally, laugh and don’t complain about the occasional stiff. If left to its own devices, aggravation will only hinder your serving abilities. Remember: servers/bartenders make very good “coin”, hundreds of tax free money each evening, complaining about stereotypes not only makes you sound prejudicial, but also spoiled.

J. Charles Victor
Oakville, Ontario





Restaurant Etiquette – Part II by Kevin Hilditch


Restaurant Etiquette – Part II
The Customer Is Always Right – How to get the service you deserve

by Kevin Hilditch

August 4, 1999

Have you read Part I?

This is an original Podium article.


One way to guarantee a table in almost any restaurant is to phone ahead for reservations. You may be surprised at how many establishments do encourage this. In some very busy places you may be able convince them to squeeze you in between reservations (i.e. “We can be out in half an hour.”) Making reservations also allows you the freedom to get ready at a leisurely pace, avoid long line-ups and to sit at a window seat or a booth by the fireplace. An afterthought would be to gently suggest that the seating be away from the kitchen and the washroom. Unless the noises and smells of either are something you enjoy.

Without a Reservation. (impromptu)

If you are in the unfortunate position of having to wait for a table there are a few ways to make the wait easier. Firstly, ask how long the wait is for a table. More importantly, if at all possible, get your name on a waiting list and request an approximate (or ideally specific) time as to when your table will be ready. Instead of spending your time in the lineup, you will then be able to leave and come back without the worry of losing your place. If there is no place to which to wander off, ask if there is a lounge or bar in which the time can be spent. Sometimes there will be an appetizer menu or, if the wait is too long, some restaurants make the full menu available in such lounges. Make sure you tell the host/hostess where you are and to call you when the table is set. This is not an imposition. If they want your business they will accommodate you.

Note: Do not point at a dirty table and ask to sit there. Do not seat yourself. This is not only impolite to others in line, but the server will be less than receptive to your dining needs.


Good drinks, good food and good service are your higher- power- given rights! Anything less should be addressed to either the server or, as a last result, the manager. The food and drinks should be the way they are described on the menu. The food should be cooked the way that you want it. The server should be readily available for any further requests (condiments, water, more coffee, etc.) If this is not the case, politely bring it to their attention and expect them to remedy it. Sending back food or a drink will not hurt their feelings, chances are they are not the ones who made them. They can easily void the item from the bill and replace it with something else, or have the cost of the item removed from the final total. A gift certificate towards the next visit may also be a possibility. If the servers do take it personally, then they are in the wrong business. The tip can reflect such a poor attitude. The customer should be made to feel that he or she matters. After all, by paying for the bill you are paying their salary, and the tip will help pay their rent.

Ultimately, if you feel that any problems were not resolved to your satisfaction, and communication between you and the server is less than satisfactory, you should ask to see the manager. If you would like to avoid a confrontation, quietly ask for the manager on your way out and explain the situation. Chances are you are not the first to complain about either the service or the quality of the food. It is not your fault, the waiter will not hate you (chances are they wont even remember who you are, should you choose to return) and you may actually make a difference for the next patron.

The Bill.

Check the bill carefully. Waiters /waitresses and machines can make mistakes. If you feel the prices are not the same as those listed on the menu, do not be afraid to check. Sometimes you may be overcharged or charged for something you did not consume.

Then it is time to decide about the tip. As discussed in Part I, 10% should be the standard unless the servers have been rude or condescending. In this case, it is okay to show your disappointment by stiffing them (leave them nothing or less than 10%). Do not stiff them based upon food or drink quality, or upon the time a meal took to prepare. This is not their fault.

Lastly, check your change. This is an important point because sometimes servers (especially if they feel they they will be tipped poorly) may take it upon themselves to take the tip they feel they deserve before they return the change. This happens! If it does , ask to have the correct amount of change returned and tip accordingly. This is especially true in nightclubs and bars. Beware.

The Rules.

Expect to get what you pay for and more! The employees of a restaurant or bar are there to please you in the hopes that you will bring return business and possibly recommend the place to others; their eager attitude is not just for the sake of tips. That is how a place becomes and stays successful. In order to be successful, an establishment must cater to the needs and expectations of anyone who steps through the door.

Keeping this in mind, the strongest statement you can make in a negative situation is to express yourself clearly to the manager or owner and take your business elsewhere.

Kevin Hilditch is a bartender in downtown Toronto. He is also a registered Shiatsu massage therapist and has never starred in a syndicated sit-com.