Friday, October 23, 2015

The Flirting Theory

Does flirting get you better service, jobs, or even a better cut of beef? This discussion came up recently at work. Most believed they received benefits due to their flirting. It also comes down to what you define as flirting. I was raised to be civil, helpful and pleasant. If someone asks for the time or help in finding a particular item in the grocery, I would never consider my assistance as flirting, although some people would.

Flirting can consist of making jokes, direct compliments, teasing that prolongs a conversation beyond its natural limits. Most sales people will flatter the customer pretending an interest they don’t feel.  My sales training focused on how to friend the person creating an affability to make a sale. The service person, server, or car salesperson really isn’t interested in you. Depending on their policy, they could get in trouble for not smiling or wishing you a pleasant day.

Several co-workers insisted they received better service by flirting. Most of the time they got the same service everyone else did. A perusal of a magazine meant for restaurant owners and employees listed the issues servers had with customers. Number one was flirting. Most of the time the young server was creeped out by men or women old enough to be his or her parents flirting them up. Especially icky was when customers leered, made comments about the server’s appearance, or even mentioned coming back again. It sounds a great deal like stalking.

Why do people bother to flirt, especially in the presence of their spouse or significant other? First, they have a captive audience with employees who can’t say anything negative at the risk of losing a sale or possibly their job.  The would-be Lotharios set out to prove to the significant other that they are still hot. While the server ducks back into the kitchen to get their order, the flirter might even go on about how intrigued the waitress was. When in truth, she’s relating the hackneyed lines to the amusement of her fellow workers.

Secondly, it is a no-risk situation. The flirter doesn’t have to worry about rejection because, as the buyer, he or she holds all the power. The intention was never to pick up someone, but just to build up some self-esteem. Doing this in front of a significant other guarantees the safety aspect. It also means that the person serving the obnoxious flirter may have a few choice descriptions uttered only after the tip is rendered, and only to fellow servers.

Occasionally, there are people who deliberately flirt to irritate their spouse, provoke jealously, or even start an argument. It makes you wonder what benefits they hope to get.

As for the salesperson who is the victim of this unwanted attention, it is a form of harassment. If a person were genuinely interested in the employee, and the server felt likewise, then it would be an entirely different story. The flirting would serve its natural purpose as opposed to trying to cop a free appetizer.

Often, employees will play the flirting game. An example is giving the offender free pie as if it were a special gift between the two of them even though the restaurant had a free pie policy. This results in the flirter tipping more in the belief he received something special.

Back in the day, when I was waitress, a single, older man was usually a guarantee of a big tip if played appropriately. It kind of makes you wonder who is playing whom?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Has Romance Died Due to Technology?

BBC historian Lucy Worsley recently rocked boats when she declared romance was dead thanks to dating apps. More and more people are using smart phones to hook up. A possible swipe to the right depends on superficial looks and a clever tagline. Actually, neither have to be authentic to get a first date. No worries about the second date because that isn’t happening. Most likely bored singles are looking for diversion in their busy lives, not relationships, and definitely not romance.

Romance is complex and often takes time. An initial interested glance encountered at the coffee shop or at work results in follow-up events. These incidents can be as simple as a hello or a smile. Eventually, an invitation is offered after weighing the pro and cons of doing so. If the date goes well, there is a second one, and the gradual road to getting to know one another. A few of us are old enough to remember the excitement of a growing flirtation, the specialness of a date request, even the importance of the first kiss.

With applications such as Tinder, people are little more than interchangeable units. There is no specialness when there seems to be an unending supply of people to pick from. In the end, some people showcase better than others, which only proves they’ve mastered smoke and mirror manipulation. It doesn’t really matter if the person isn’t single, a jet pilot, or former Olympian since he or she has no plans to stay around long enough for it to matter.

This type of throwaway dating is destined to cause bitterness. It is no wonder that other apps have shown up to allow people to rate their dates. The forthcoming Peeple app allows people to report on dates, sexual performance, bosses, and restaurant servers. Someone in a funk could lambast an ex, his or her boss, and the barista at the local coffee shop. While it is supposed to improve service in the service area, it will eventually bully or humiliate people.

So why is romance dying a swift death? It could be that people always assume what is new is better. Fast food wowed people with convenience but worsened the health of the consumers. Smart phones are not only contributing to the lack of memory skills but are taking people out of the moment. A recent photo at a popular movie premiere illustrated that fact with everyone either staring at their phones or attempting to take pictures for future viewing. Only one lone woman seemed content to be in the now.

Is romance dead? Sadly, it may be for twenty-something adults who had cell phones before they could even drive. Dating is about getting to know someone. You date until you realize you wouldn’t work as a couple. Most people can do this by crawling through each other’s social media.

Traditionalists will still meet for drinks, make plans for dates, and answer the phone when called. Others will only read tweets replying when they feel like it. For some people, romance didn’t die because it never even existed.  
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