I have trouble fully understanding the customer-wait staff interaction protocol in many restaurants.
1. Upon entering the restaurant, you're shown to your seats by a greeter. You may or may not be able to place your drink order with the greeter. You cannot place a food order with the greeter.
2. Some minutes later, you're visited by someone to take your drink order if the greeter doesn't serve this function. This person cannot take your food order and server only to handle drink orders.
3. Some additional minutes later, an actual waiter or waitress deigns to accept your food order. You cannot pay for your meal at this time because you might possibly order something additional before leaving.
4. All orders are kept in the kitchen until they can be brought out at the same time, with the exception of appetizers, if any. You can't pay now, either.
5. After you finish your meal, you sit around 'socializing' until the ait staff notices you've stopped eating.
6. The wait staff arrives and asks if it's all going to be on one check (if you're lucky) or simply brings a single check (if you're not) which causes you to request the check be split (like every other group before you has done since the beginning of time. I theorize that the Single Check is the Holy Grail of tablewaiting).
7. You can't actually *pay* now. The wait staff vanishes after depositing your check, leaving you time to contemplate it properly. You can't even beg them to accept your money even if you had it already in your hand, because they've collected your emty drinks to carry away and those are far more important than taking your money and allowing you to leave.
8. The wait staff reappears again to collect your payment method. Finally. If you pay by exact amount, you're free to go. If you need change or pay by credit, you're not done yet. The wait staff disappears with your payment.
9. The wait staff returns with your change or your receipt. If you've paid by cash, *now* you're free to go. If you've paid by credit, you probably have to wait for them to reappear so you can ask for a pen.
10. Finally return to work one and a half hours late.
Nice. I'm not crazy!