Letter from Sejal Patel

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Your Meeting With Pierre Trudeau

A letter from Sejal Patel
October 7, 2000

I just read your article about your initial meeting with Pierre Trudeau. It moved me. While I cannot claim to understand exactly what he meant to you and your countrymen, I can understand that he was a very powerful force and impact for you personally and for the Canadian state. [You stood] in the presence of a truly great man.

While I have had brushes with famed and powerful figures, I do not believe they have had as much of the impact as [did Trudeau on] that young boy, two school friends and their teacher. It amazed me to read about your encounter.

Sejal Patel
Somewhere in Massachusetts, USA

 

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Letter from Zoogy – Sep/2000

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Congrats

A letter from “The Lone Zoogy”
September, 2000

Hello, I just stumbled upon your article addressing the now-always-referenced Columbine massacre/trenchcoat issue, and I must say that I wholly agree with you.

I myself have liked trenchcoats (especially black, since they look so much better) well BEFORE the incident, but it’s still considered a “bad thing” to wear, even after more than a year since the shooting. A few months ago I wore one to school, and went through about a dozen or so comments like “Hey, Mr. Columbine” or “Look! It’s the trenchcoat mafia!”.

Probably what I find most interesting about the subject is that the two individuals who killed the students were NOT affiliated with the Trenchcoat Mafia (which isn’t even a violent group), but instead just decided to wear long coats which could conceal weaponry. This is certainly NOT the first time this has happened! There have been several cases in movies and in real life where people have used trenchcoats to conceal a variety of things, yet we choose to bring it up now. It’s disgusting that, as we now approach the year and a half anniversary, we still can’t give up this hatred against a fashion statement. To cite an example, www.trenchcoat.com, a site simply for selling the coats, was banned after the incident. The person who ran it took it down, but he did leave all the hate mail or “join applications” that he received.

Truly terrifying how ignorant people can be.

Well, sorry if that was a long spiel. I just really did agree with you.

The Zoogy
Somewhere in California

 

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Rodney Porter’s Letter – Jan. 12, 2000

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Jan. 12, 2000

Dear Sir,

Great magazine! But next to impossible to navigate.

My I take this opportunity to say ‘The Pode‘ is a great idea, and one online magazine that I am keen to refer people to. However, I think it desperately needs a better contents section and navigational system… Perhaps one of your technical staff (*ahem*) would be able to do something to accommodate your readers’ needs?

Also, your email details are invalid.

Regards,

Rodney Porter
Toronto, Ontario

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In response to Mr. Charles Victor

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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.
Sincerely,
Kevin Hilditch
Toronto, Ontario

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Letter from Charles Victor – August 14, 1999

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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

 

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