One of my colleagues was back in the office today after two weeks away (during which she successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, with distinction), and our boss offered to treat the two of us to lunch, to talk about some upcoming changes in the office as we prepare to welcome two more people the end of the month.
We went to a wonderful Lebanese-American restaurant in Shirlington–Aladdin’s Eatery–which I’d never really noticed before, despite frequent meals at other Shirlington eateries in the same pedestrian mall. My entree was a charbroiled tuna salad in a pita, which I expected to be only a half a pita, which I would have found reasonable for its price of $5-6. What they brought out was a whole pita nearly as big as my head, filled with greens and practically a dinner-sized portion of tuna (admittedly, the tuna was a little on the overdone and dry side, but the meal was fine even before you take into account how reasonably priced it was). I eventually ended up bringing more than half of it back with me, to take home for dinner.
Our server was a very cute young man of Middle Eastern appearance, named Walid, who seemed very attentive to me, even personally guiding me over to the dessert tray to check out their incredible range of cheesecakes when he could easily have just pointed it out fifteen feet away and in direct line of sight. Throughout the meal, I assumed all of this attention was just the mark of a good server who was hoping for a solid tip. Even after my boss picked up the check, though, Walid continued to be particularly attentive to me, even resting his hand briefly on my shoulder as he brought back my wrapped salad, and then looking directly at me as he said “I hope to see you back again soon” (damn English and its gender- and number-neutral second person pronouns!). As we left, I turned back and caught his eye as he was watching us leave, and we both smiled broadly. My assumption with waitstaff usually is not that that kind of attention means I’m being cruised–I tend to be pretty dense about whether or not someone is cruising me even in less ambiguous circumstances–but that they’re just diligent about providing good service, but in this case I’m not so sure. And I definitely do want to go back.