pay attention to your server's name
One of my favorite email newsletters is Rob Walker's The Art of Noticing, or TAON. In TAON's "Something to Notice" section, Rob suggests "something you might want to make an effort to notice in the weeks ahead". I always find myself thinking about the prompts for long afterwards, and they often lead me to novel observations.
In that spirit, something to notice that I thought of today is the name of your server at a restaurant. The place my coworkers and I went to for lunch was taking forever to make our food. We were all understandably frustrated after sitting in the hot noon sun for more than an hour while watching other people come in after us, get their food, and leave. For all our frustration, when it came time to getting our waiter's attention, I noticed that I was the only one among us who remembered his name.
I'll be the first to admit that I almost never remember the names of my servers. They almost always tell me when they introduce themselves, but my interactions with wait-staff are so scripted that I either forget immediately or never catch it in the first place. From my experience, I suspect that most people are like me in that regard, which makes me sad.
Not only does paying attention to this crucial piece of information help you when you need to get their attention (see: the cocktail party effect), but I like to think that it also subconsciously helps us treat them better. When I know their name, it helps me think of them more as a person than a server, someone with feelings who is likely not at fault for the long wait.
So the next time you go out to eat, try to pay extra attention when your waiter or waitress introduces themselves. Better yet, call them by their name. And don't forget to always, always be kind and thank them. You never know what they might be dealing with.