Should Your Staff be Allowed to Wear those Huge, Eye-Irritating & Hypnotizing Contact Lenses to Work?
When dining out I rarely order red meat, so it made for quite an evening when I sprung for the Tomahawk steak.
While my guests openly applauded the choice, I thought to myself, "What did I just order?"
"How did I go from perusing the fish and chicken items to ordering the most expensive item on the menu?"
I know it sounds nuts, but I was hypnotized.
How else do you explain it?
Right before I ordered the Tomahawk steak, the last thing I could remember were the unreal dimensions of our server's eyes.
Our server's eyes, instead of being dark brown in color, were big, black, decorative lunar circles. With the sound of glassware clinking in the background, I was experiencing a deer caught in a full-moon-on-the-horizon moment.
There was no escape. Our 'eyes' locked and she threw away the key.
The Tomahawk was mine.
I immediately called over the server to discuss this awkward scenario and question her of haunting me with her decorative or "circle" contact lenses.
All I can remember, however, is then ordering a magnum of Champagne. While the rest of the dining table was beside themselves for my generosity, I thought to myself, "She hypnotized me again!!!!"
While I've always wanted my staff to have expressive, physical freedoms, have the fake colored contact lenses gone too far? Always supportive of multiple piercings, visible tattoos, and blue hair dyes, it may seem odd that I've grown quite concerned with these decorative or 'circle" contact lenses.
When shopping at a large department store last week, I was about to ask the employee if they carried a particular shoe in a size 10. Instead, I asked, "Hey, are you ok?" With clear strain in her eyes, the watery redness on the inner and outer edges of her eyes left me concerned about her welfare and no longer interested in the shoes.
And this scene is being repeated at bars and restaurants across town.
Cautious of any unwanted items in your food, all standard food safety handling seminars will tell you culinary staff are prohibited from wearing earrings, fake nails, and nail polish. How long until decorative contact lenses are included in these safety regimens?
Further, any decorative contact lens wearing internet forum is loaded with contact-lenses-gone-wrong stories.
Manager on Phone: "Somchai, you're 15 minutes late -- where are you?"
Somchai: "Sorry boss, I have another eye infection and the the doctor told me to rest my eyes for a week. Very sorry."
Seeing my guests having a wonderful time at the dinner, I quickly forgave our server for placing me in a mind-altering trance at the hands of her dialing and twirling contact lenses.
Jokes aside, however, this is a startling trend. A key aspect of any hospitality transaction is eye-contact. If the eyes are indeed the "windows to the soul," are you comfortable with staff that is putting up a strong barrier to this simple human connection? We use our eyes to 'land' and connect with people. We're told that when someone avoids eye contact they are hiding something or being untrustworthy.
Sure, this might be a bit extreme, but if sincerity and honesty are 2 of the cornerstones of great guest services, aren't we a bit suspicious of a decorative element that makes "real" eye-contact more difficult?
Justin Dunne is the founder and managing director of Evolution48. Please see "Services Offered" for a full menu of options this boutique hospitality production firm offers.