I have read a few posts recently by Tandleman highlighting the rather abstract view of politeness and unselfish pub behaviour demonstrated in some London hostelries latest here. I have noticed however that this is a widespread malaise, and throughout the UK people seem to have quite forthright views on pub etiquette and the rules defining the relationship between customer and staff.
One comment on the post struck me in particular :
"I'm physically incapable of leaving a pub without trying to catch the eye of someone behind the bar to say cheerio - it's an instinctive reaction, like looking right when crossing the road. But on this count alone, in the last ten years of pub-going in London, I've seen a big drop in the number of bar staff looking up to see if you're leaving." (Gueuzel)
This is a joyous affirmation of my own outlook in terms of pubgoer and pub staff interaction - an all too often encountered blight on an otherwise brilliant visit which can be so easily avoided. Here is my slant on the attitude of barstaff and the role of customers.
Mainly, and crucially though, its because saying hello and goodbye is just polite. Whether you are serving or slaking.
Absence of welcome
Because the other problem is that no matter how determined the customer might be to maintain the two way exchange of warm words, some pubs just don't have a human touch. Customers are numbers, pints sold or meals masticated; the staff only look at the till, not your face. It seems that interest in the cursory hello and goodbye and the conscious treaty of civility between barkeep and barfly is waining fast.
Personally, I fully intend to keep on being polite, but every now and again I come upon and up against a hostelry so devoid of customer appreciation that its difficult to know how to react. So I shall leave this subject with a quote from my first ever post about a pub where pleasantries seemed gratuitous and indeed engagement of any kind seemed abnormal :
"Heading further into Sussex the level of hospitality dropped. Deep in Winnie the Pooh country, The Hatch at Colemans Hatch was a stark contrast to the New Inn. This unfriendly restaurant stocks a few beers to sell to its valued food customers and had no proviso for either welcoming or seating financially unrewarding drinkers. Squinting in pretentious near darkness at the pumps we selected Larkin’s traditional and more Harvey’s before finding a much sought after seat in the garden. The beer was fine, but when my Dad took the glasses back (as a courteous person would) the bar person looked at him with derision, and then glared at us when we said goodbye. Judging by the prices I am sure that the pub can easily afford to alienate drinkers, but it’s disappointing that financial demands should affect visitors to that extent."
Its time we re-established the pubgoer/pub worker relationship. Saying hello and goodbye isn't difficult for any of us, after all...