From Basil Fawlty to God

The Fairmont hotels are a chain of lavish and opulent hotels. However, our breakfast in the restaurant at the Fairmont Copley in Boston was a little like Fawlty Towers.

A very charming young lady at the front desk of the restaurant (Sybil) asked if we were with the Scenic Tours group, to which we replied that we were. She then sat us at a table In the middle of a group of twenty or so other Australians who were actually part of a different tour group to us. It was then that we met our waiter (Basil Fawlty).

We managed to totally confuse him with our accents. Not that we think we have an accent – it’s the local people here who have a strange accent. He just couldn’t tell the difference between those who were part of the other group and us, who had just sat down.

Firstly, we sat there for 15 minutes before he took our order. Then another couple from our tour group joined us. At this time, the waiter presented us with our bill. We explained that we hadn’t yet had our meal, so he apologised and headed off in the opposite direction to the kitchen. Now was the time to ask Sybil for help. She didn’t shout, or slap Basil in the head like the real Sybil, but went in the direction of the kitchen to follow up our meal. In the meantime, another waiter delivered our juice and coffee to the table next door. In the next part of this little saga, Basil returned to our friends and presented them with a bill when, so far, they hadn’t even placed an order. In the end, Basil apologised for the series of mix-ups and was sorry that our breakfast had become a little like a three-ring circus. We said that actually it reminded us more of a TV show. He was very quick to pick up the idea that we were referring to Fawlty Towers.

On another note, we have seen that Americans are very polite and have a great desire to help. I am often addressed as ‘Sir’ and people go out of their way to be polite.

A good example of a genuine desire to be helpful, happened while we were having lunch today in a tavern by the the harbour.

It had begun to drizzle and I wanted to know if this was likely to be a passing shower or whether it would set in for the afternoon. I asked our young waiter if he was a local boy and he replied “Yes Sir, I live three streets away” when I asked him if he thought ‘the rain would continue, and in a very sincere attempt to be helpful, he replied “I don’t know Sir, but I will go and ask”.

Here are with Basil Fawlty at breakfast and a young waiter at lunch with a direct line to God!


Bruce is a keen traveller and photographer. This web site describes his travel and family interests

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