This week I had the pleasure reacquainting myself with Ruby’s Diner on Linenhall St, a place I hadn’t eaten in since way back in 2002 when I worked just up the street. The decor has changed a bit since its greasy spoon look back then when it was frequented mostly by motorbike couriers. The banter remains the same thankfully.
The food is cheap and cheerful but tasty nonetheless. I can thoroughly recommend the “Brokeback Special”, or plain old cowboy supper to you and me, washed down with a big mug of tea. All yours for £4.75. The banter comes free which is why I’m writing this post.
The guys in the diner know all their regulars by name. More interestingly from a customer service perspective they also have nicknames for several which they use openly as they spot them through the glass coming towards the establishment.
Here comes “The Yank” says one. “Pat the Hat” incoming says another.
Public and Customer relations “experts” would cringe at this blatant tagging of loyal customers but I found it absolutely refreshing. I guess the more educated might call it a form of engagement. You’ll certainly not hear it coming from the mouth of an automaton in McDonalds or KFC or those who would deem themselves to be a more upmarket eatery in the locality.
Those monikered customers must implicitly accept that this is part and parcel of the Ruby’s experience as they can’t have missed others being treated this way. Even if they may not necessarily be aware of their own nickname they most likely wouldn’t complain but see it as part of the craic. If they did take offence surely they would take their business elsewhere. The nicknames were used by the staff in an endearing way rather than being critical, bullying or downright nasty. Either way the diner has outlasted many others through good times and bad so it can’t be a bad thing.
Working in a pretty politically correct organisation as I do nicknames just don’t exist in the way that they may have done years ago. I was exposed to them throughout my youth growing up in the country by my Dad and his motley crew of friends, acquaintances and customers. I have fond memories of banter in my fathers garage with legends such as “Strawhead” and “Curly”, “Hairy”, “KPeanuts” and “The Giant”. Some of these men have now sadly passed and with them their nicknames start to fade from memory. Again they were used as terms of endearment and my father still talks about those guys fondly.
I’m interested to hear your views on nicknames and those you might have for friends, acquaintances and customers. Do they know about them? Do you have one?
Keep it clean.
David “The Magpie”