Elwood 5566

Ear Piece Mania

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Entertainment by 노강호 on July 19, 2010

Have you noticed that it seems a trendy, usually in western style restaurants, to equip your staff with radio earpieces. I often eat in a couple of places where the CIA and Personal Protection Services collide and fully expect to see staff with the barrel of a revolver poking from the waistband. It would be understandable if there were only a few members of staff per restaurant, but  in Korea it’s customer service overload.

Two of the restaurants I frequent involve parking in a supermarket where I am always amused by the directions provided to vacant parking. First, there is the manic series of Power Ranger poses that alert you to the fact you have to turn left to enter the parking facilities. Of course, directions are adequately posted on both the tarmac itself and on street signs and you can hardly miss the building; it’s five stories high! Korean drivers have a reputation for multi-tasking, mobile phone in one hand, sandwich in the other; so I guess the Power Ranger routine grabs the attention of even the most inattentive driver. And  next, once in the car park building, you can enjoy being mesmerized by the glitzy-glamour gals and their sequined stetsons that stand to attention on the apex of every corner and provide you a selection of semi-sexual hand gestures. My favourite is the direction to, ‘dim your head lamps,’ which looks like sign-language for, ‘it’s snowing.’ Performing this motion for several hours a day would drive you potty, unless of course you’d dropped an acid tab which in tandem with the glitzy-gloves, would be an exhilarating experience. Simply parking the car has been facilitated by 10 student staff, and that was only as far as the first level, but  no one’s complaining when an hour’s wages are just enough to buy you a coffee and bun.

The Power Range Poses for directing traffic to parking lot

In the restaurant, another batch of students are re-enacting Men in Black. It’s early lunchtime and despite the fact there are only three customers, there are nine waiters each adorned with an ear-piece! I remember when CB radio was a fad and it was common to listen ‘into’ police radios, for fun. I wonder if you can listen ‘into’ restaurant radios because I’d love to know what instructions are transmitted. Do individual waiters have a ‘handle?’ Do they follow standard radio protocol?

Han Man One calling Waiter Number 10, take order from table number 5. Over.

Han Man One calling Waiter number 6, deliver steak and banana jam, with portion of kimchi and pickle, to table 5. Over.

The radios remind me of a Burger King restaurant in Osnabruck, Germany, which installed radios where you made you order. Staff had to speak your order into the radio which then broadcast it to the staff ‘cooking.’  Not a bad idea except the staff doing the ‘cooking’ were less than a meter from the staff collecting the order, and sometimes the staff ordering would turn about and become the staff ‘cooking.’ It seems nothing could be done without speaking first into the radio-loud speaker contraption. Worse, the sound the radio produced, perhaps because of the proximity, was muffled and incomprehensible and so, ‘Whopper,’ sounded like, ‘wowa.’

Maybe the ear pieces transmit calming music to anesthetize staff when there are no customers or when staff outnumber  them. Maybe they’re totally dead, simply window-dressing, because I never seen any staff directing waiters. I’d sure like to have a whirl on them, secretly – and if of course, I could speak Korean. One of the places I eat has the most handsome waiter and I’d love to say a few things directly into his ear-hole.  Unfortunately, though the restaurant serves a rather delicious sausage, amusingly called ‘sausage on the bone’ as it has a spare rib painfully protruding from one end, the only sausage I want is not on the menu!

Creative Commons License
© Nick Elwood 2010. This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

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