‘Watch your leg!’ said the Plaza manager (at least I think she was the manager) vacuuming round my legs as I stood up to leave. Not in a ‘me and my vacuum are miles away, but I’ll be polite anyway’ kind of comment. She was so aggressively close I was ready to lift my legs under the table, the way you might at home, but wouldn’t dream of doing to strangers, especially not paying customers.
Well, we paid, Borås Girl and I. But we didn’t tip. Not after that kind of an afternoon tea. BG had suggested meeting at the Stockport Plaza, for my farewell tea, before leaving town. Because we’d liked it on our first visit.
We met there at three, and I’d just remembered they close at four, so worried in case we wouldn’t have enough time to order (service is always slow) and enjoy our tea, before needing to leave.
After a cursory greeting we were told we could sit anywhere, but waved towards the tables at the back. With a window table free, I insisted on that, instead of being hidden away as the unattractive witch that I am. At 3.15 our greeter put on her jacket and left. I hailed her as she passed (seeing as everyone else had ignored us) and asked to order. She looked surprised, but stalked back and told the manager these weird people wanted to actually order.
The manager asked how long we’d waited (did it matter by then?) and took our order. It arrived by 3.25, by way of putting tall cake stands right in front of us, rather than to the side where it would be possible for us to serve ourselves.
Ten minutes later we had barely got started, when they brought the vacuum cleaner out, drowning both the muzak and some of our conversation. But who wants to chat when they can eat scones?
By 3.45 we were just about on our own in there, and tables were being laid for the next day, by the plentiful staff, who’d been too un-busy to serve us before. And the manager vacuumed. She worked her way ever closer to our table, and we realised we were expected to leave.
The polite way would have been to hand us our bill with an apology that they were closing. But she made me ask for that bill, while whirring round our feet.
As I might have mentioned, we didn’t tip. It’s rare for me not to do that, even with bad service, but this just suffered from some extra lack of normal polite behaviour. Luckily for them I won’t be needing to go back, so they’re not losing a customer. And at least it’s something to remember them by.
I should be grateful, really.