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Hostess Cupcakes


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The "hostess" in question is actually the manager whose duties include expediting when necessary, presenting checks and running credit cards, clearing, resetting and reconfiguring tables, dealing with the occasional service issue or vituperatively insane guest, as well as running, planning the seating and seating the floor to accommodate the intense and challenging demands of a large crowd looking to be seated in a small restaurant.

If she were not female, I daresay that her role and her duties would be more clearly recognized and appreciated, and that she would be more properly be discussed as the manager, and not be dismissed as the "hostess". (This last comment also, and actually more specifically, refers to PM's I have received). It also, I daresay, would not be assumed that she is afraid of the cold.

A similar issue arose in The Corduroy Incident, in which Rissa was dismissed as "the hostess." Some thoughts: The thing in front of the restaurant is called a "host stand," some calling it a "hostess stand." The person working at that station is acting in capacity as the host or hostess. They might also be the manager. They might also be working on a PhD in nuclear physics and be a billionaire. But they're still the host, and I don't think there's anything wrong with calling them that.

There's an added nuance here with implied sexism - "hostess" perhaps being a dismissive term not unlike "waitress." Personally, I refer to the person, male or female, as a "host," but I'm open to a gender-neutral term such as "server" if anyone has one in mind. That said, I've always cringed at the term "server," as it implies servitude to me, and I consider the diner-server relationship an equal partnership - likewise the diner-host relationship. However, "server" is the generally accepted term of the moment, so I don't stress out about it.

When asking for the manager, I've always found it best to ask the host, "Are you the manager?" As opposed to "May I speak with the manager?" The former puts the person directly into the situation, and generally gets a response such as "No, would you like me to get her?" The latter shifts everything to a non-present third-person, and tends to get responses like "Actually, she's really busy right now - is there something I can do?" Incidentally, I don't phrase the question like this as an exercise in psychology; I do it as a gesture of respect, and it happens to have the added perk of getting better results.



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I know a host or two that I would call "cupcake." And those guys would be thrilled! I know ... we are trying to be serious here. Still, context is everything. Some people are determined to be "top dog", even if it means that they don't get what they want or need. A little care with the vocabulary goes a long way.

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