A good waiter always calls to mind one of the most famous waiters in literature, a nameless waiter who appears in Sartre's Being and Nothingness and who serves as the locus classicus of the Sartrean idea of "bad faith," i.e., pretending to ourselves that we are mechanistic, determined objects instead of accepting the reality of our (alas, unbearable) freedom. Sartre's waiter's movements betray a kind of bad faith because they are so over the top: "His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes toward the patrons with a step a little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer....All his behavior seems to us a game." He is playing at being a waiter in a café, says Sartre.
And what a good play that can be! I had the pleasure of dining at Bobino's for a late lunch today, after a trip to the MIA. The café was almost empty, one waiter was working. We found out that the waiter had only recently began work at Bobino's, but it was clear that he was experienced. A key to charisma is to make others feel privileged. Our waiter knew how to do this without being too solicitous: "The pancakes. Very good Sir! That's an excellent choice; well done! I fully approve, fully approve." And on he went, reassuring me that I had made a good choice, congratulating me as if I had accomplished a terribly difficult feat, done what has never been done - ordered the pancakes. (They were delicious).