I’m back in the States for a month sorting out paperwork for a visa and endlessly tempted to make comparisons between the way of life here and that in Spain. Of course, I’ve lived nearly my whole life in the U.S., so coming back here is a completely smooth transition except for a few hiccups like reaching for the clutch in my parents’ automatic transmission cars and answering the phone “¿Si?” But since I’ve spent nearly all of the past two years in Spain, the contrasts on the two occasions I’ve returned are very evident.

At lunch the other day at the White Dog Café in Philadelphia, I commented to my mom and sister about the service being so, well, attentive. The waiter had just filled my water glass for the third time. We hadn’t received a nasty look when we asked for three glasses of water; in fact, our server was extremely friendly and polite.

“It’s so different from Spain!” I said (see discussion on Notes from Spain about Spaniards being rude).

My mother grimaced at the memory of some of the experiences we’d shared on their trip to Spain. I made the point that tipping doesn’t really exist in Spain–the servers aren’t trying hard for any reason.

“Yeah,” my mom said. “But there’s such a thing as service.”

I’m not totally convinced that many Spaniards think about that as they serve you…

1 Response to “Service”

  1. 1 Graeme Tuesday, 4 September, 2007 at 8:31 am

    The problem is to get good service without it being servile – I hate the fact that people are forced to be nice just to get tips. Not everywhere in Spain is bad for service, the problem is that when it’s bad then it can be very bad. I tip in Spain, although not as much as I tip elsewhere – but I’m convinced that the age of the “professional” waiter on a decent salary is almost over in Spain.

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