• Welcome to ScubaBoard


  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Island time? Why do we accept this excuse?

Discussion in 'Bonaire' started by wildbill9, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    9,330
    5,917
    113
    Weed, hmm, interesting theory. My wife thinks it's not so much "island time" as that the farther from the tropics you get, the harder people have to work to survive. Northerners (in our hemisphere) are industrious. Southerners, maybe less so. "You don't have to work hard to eat where the mango just falls off the tree," she says. Doesn't explain Bonaire, a desert island, but I like the theory anyway.
     
    BRT, woodcarver and chillyinCanada like this.
  2. Hoag

    Hoag Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ontario
    1,471
    1,101
    113
    Similar effect if they find out that you are Canadian (especially if you are a member of the Canadian Armed Forces). You will not be "allowed" to pay for your drinks or your meal.
     
  3. Steelyeyes

    Steelyeyes Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Redmond Wa
    589
    457
    63
    I look at as the inverse. Temperate folks do have to work harder to survive but they generally don't overheat doing it. When we go to the tropics we take habits and attitudes that are incompatible with the weather. Thus the saying "Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" and similar things.
     
  4. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    592
    654
    93
    And I disagree that there's one answer for all situations on whether cultural differences are acceptable. I think the philosophical term is "soft universalism," the idea that certain fundamental values are universal (i.e. that "cultural differences" doesn't cut it as an excuse for human rights violations), but that beyond those fundamentals there's a lot of room for reasonable people to disagree, and we should respect cultural differences in those areas (i.e. the acceptable wait time for a beer.)

    It's not just a question of whether it's preferable to be greeted before you've even looked at the menu, to get the check while you're eating, or to have your plate cleared as soon as you're done if your companions are still finishing their food. It's more a question of what lengths we're prepared to go to in order to avoid anyone having to wait longer than they would like.

    I was a server and bartender for ten years in various American establishments. Among other things I was trained to do a "two minute/two bite" check on every table after delivering the food, and we were also given strict time limits for the initial greeting and frequency with which we had to check in. The companies I worked for hired secret shoppers to make sure we weren't slipping. Business fluctuated unpredictably, which made it difficult to properly staff the restaurant. When we were full and on a wait list, it was simple--all hands on deck. But when it was slow, managers were reluctant to send people home, because things could pick up any minute, and then the speed of service might suffer. I can't tell you how many times I was forced to hang around for hours without customers, doing sidework for $2.63 an hour (many U.S. states have a lower minimum wage for employees who traditionally receive tips.)

    It wasn't just the servers who felt the stress of the unyielding expectations. A cook came in once for his shift with an oil burn that covered his entire forearm, sustained during the shift he'd just finished at his other job. He had been afraid of losing his job if he left work or complained; his family in Columbia depended on the money he sent them. We were otherwise fully staffed that day--no call-outs--so our manager let him take the day off. Legally, they weren't required to; restaurant workers were not entitled to any sick leave, even unpaid, and I wonder what they would have done if we really couldn't spare someone that day without it affecting speed of service. One time at that same job, I cut my hand pretty badly when slicing limes for the bar before we opened. My first thought was to cover the wound before I got any blood on my uniform. My second thought was whether there was anyone scheduled that day who had been trained to work the bar. There wasn't. I bandaged my hand and covered it with a latex glove and spent the rest of my shift cheerfully mixing drinks and making lame Michael Jackson jokes to anyone who asked about the glove. My manager asked if I was OK. I could tell she didn't believe me when I said yes. But I also knew she knew she had no one else who knew the drink recipes, and no one could get them out fast enough if they had to look up each one. So she pretended to believe me, and then suggested, after my shift, that I see a doctor about getting some stitches and a tetanus shot. She reassured me that worker's comp would pay for it and that I wouldn't be penalized for using it. She was better than most. At a different job, I once asked to leave an hour early so that I could get to Urgent Care before they closed to get antibiotics for a urinary tract infection (which I probably got from going entire shifts without using the bathroom, because I never stopped running around at this job.) My co-worker was willing to cover my tables, but obviously they would have to wait a little longer, as would her tables. My boss said no. I couldn't sleep that night because I was in so much pain. I could have gone to the ER, but I didn't have health insurance and I was afraid of how much it would cost; I knew the cash price at Urgent Care was only $300. I lay awake crying and watching the clock until half an hour before Urgent Care was open, then headed over. And then, with pills in hand and the first dose swallowed, still shaking from the pain, I went to my next shift.

    I got fired from that job two weeks later. Apparently one of my tables complained about the service not being fast enough. They were at that table for four hours and never saw the bottom of their glasses; I strongly suspect they complained just to get their check comped. But it didn't matter; management wasn't interested in my side of the story. A year earlier I had taken in a co-worker at my second job who was fired for the same reason, but he had nothing else to fall back on and would have been homeless, in Boston, in the winter. I let him sleep on my couch until he found another job. But when his new restaurant went out of business, I lost touch with him. I heard through the grapevine that he'd fallen back into meth, something he'd kicked seven years before. I never saw him again. I think about him sometimes and wonder if he's still alive, and if I could have and should have done more to try to save him. But I saw countless fellow restaurant workers lose their livelihoods over a customer complaint about slow service. My couch wasn't big enough for all of them.

    I would be drifting off to sleep sometimes, every bone in my twenty-two-year-old body aching after a double shift, and suddenly remember that I never brought that ketchup to table 47 they asked for 12 hours ago. I would lie awake trying to remember--did they leave a good tip anyway? Did they fill out a comment card? Did they take their receipt with the survey link? Did they maybe forget too, or forgive the oversight, or flag down another server? Or was I going to be called into the manager's office for a closed-door conversation the next day? I would have nightmares in which I'd be taking orders for a table, and I'd see another table getting seated behind them, and another behind them, and on and on in a section that stretched to infinity. And instead of me being naked or my teeth falling out, I would see them all calling the manager over to complain about the wait.

    This is the human cost of a system designed to ensure you never have to wait 20 minutes for your beer. In a culture that runs on "island time," a restaurant manager can observe that one server is usually enough on a Tuesday afternoon, and decide to just schedule one server. And then, if a few more customers show up than expected, those people can have a seat, enjoy the sunshine, and wait. Or they can get mad and go to the restaurant across the street, but there will probably be equal numbers of customers who come to them from across the street because they got tired of waiting there. This, to me, seems like the kind of difference a reasonable person could learn to live with on vacation, unlike human rights abuses. That was the point I apparently failed to convey to your understanding in my previous one-sentence post.

    Incidentally, I finally hit my breaking point in the restaurant biz about ten years ago and decided to go to law school. Not exactly the most Namaste career choice, I know. And now I represent parents accused of abusing or neglecting their children, many of them struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse, so I'm dealing with people who are only slightly more pleasant than someone who's had to wait 20 minutes for their beer. But at least I get paid sick leave and vacation time, and I'm actually allowed to use it. I usually can tell that the stress is getting to me and it's time for a mental health day when I start having those waitressing dreams again.
     
    bcaderunr, Schwob, Storker and 14 others like this.
  5. doctormike

    doctormike ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New York City
    6,410
    6,081
    113
    I think that we are getting ludicrously far afield from the OPs post.

    If you go into a restaurant - anywhere - and there are two other tables occupied and it takes 25 minutes to get a drink while you are watching the waiter talking on their cell phone, and you are told it's because of "island time", that's just poor service. It's not because the staff is working their fingers to the bone.
     
    markmud, Nirvana, tridacna and 2 others like this.
  6. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    592
    654
    93
    No, I'm right on topic. OP complained about: "15 min before a server even takes your drink order? "It's island time". Another 10 min to bring a beer and soda? " It's island time" (even though there are only 2 other tables occupied) 40 min before your food comes out? "It's island time" . Having to flag down a server to get a refill? " It's island time". We don't expect the server to wait on us hand and foot but we do expect you to feel we are more important than talking among yourselves or your cell phone." He didn't say or insinuate that he was being pointedly ignored; he complained about the general slow pace of everything, including how long it takes to cook the food. I pointed out what it takes to consistently pull off the speed of service Americans have come to expect. But you might want to take up your concerns about getting off-topic with the guy who argued that we shouldn't tolerate slow service as a cultural difference because we don't tolerate human rights abuses on that rationale.
     
    Lorenzoid and dumpsterpurrs like this.
  7. axluba

    axluba Barracuda

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Germany
    212
    133
    43
    I disagree completely... it’s just something different than what you’re used to. The fact that one way is better than another is purely subjective... plenty of my friends coming to visit me in the US (when I was there) found the waiters way too pushy and that the bill came way too early “they can’t wait to see us leave”... I had to explain that here, it was a sign of good service!

    (I’m not even talking about tipping...)

    My point is “island time” can be sometimes overused. However, what is poor service for an American, is regular or even polite somewhere else (and vice versa). It’s all a matter of personal perspective and we all have our needle pointing in a différente direction based on our experience/education/character when it comes to what is the “best” way!
     
  8. doctormike

    doctormike ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New York City
    6,410
    6,081
    113
    Yup. We shouldn’t complain about waiting 25 minutes for a drink because that’s their culture. Some people prefer to have no drink for the first half hour, and find it offensive when the waiter serves them sooner than that. It’s just personal preference.

    The soft bigotry of low expectations.
     
    markmud, Nirvana and KathyV like this.
  9. axluba

    axluba Barracuda

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Germany
    212
    133
    43
    Would have agreed without the sarcasm :wink:

    Hey, agree to disagree! Here is a :cheers: (ordered before we could put down our coats) Cheers
     
  10. Graeme Fraser

    Graeme Fraser Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Narnia
    603
    846
    93
    A very insightful viewpoint from someone on the coalface.

    Coming from an Island (although not tropical by any stretch of the imagination) with a so-so attitude to service, I've always been amazed by the level of service in the States.

    First time in a packed American bar, me and a friend were resigned to the prospect of waiting for eternity for a drink, when a barman immediately snapped me out of my reverie with a friendly "what're you having?". I've since seen that level of service repeated in every bar and restaurant in every State I've been to.

    The downside for Americans (without wishing to generalise) is that expectations could therefore be artificially high when traveling to another country.

    Personally I'm more interested in friendly rather than speedy service. In most cases, good manners and a friendly, sympathetic attitude will be reciprocated. Conversely, my absolute pet hate is rudeness to a server through a sense of superiority or entitlement. It's outright bullying and should not be tolerated.
     

Share This Page