During many years of extensive travel I’ve had to match wits with a myriad of unfamiliar and unexpected situations. I’m about to share with you some of what I’ve learned, a thoroughly field-tested strategy that will likely prove to be much more useful than all those often fabricated and misleading reviews gushing forth from dozens of websites. And also consider this: What you discover is what it is at that moment, not days, weeks, or months ago.
Okay, here goes:
Within one minute, you’ll be able to anticipate the quality of food at a restaurant and how well you’ll be served. Look for a clean entry area of floor and steps, front door, and windows with only the necessary stickers and notices. The door should operate smoothly, easily, and quietly. Inside, a quick scan that reveals more than three or four burned-out light bulbs can, by itself, be a deal breaker.
Then check these indicators: The number of uncleaned tables (short of help), how much the previous diners left on their plates (mediocre food), and how many people are waiting to be served (a hang-up in the kitchen). The waitstaff wearing apparel should be clean and those dressed in it should look as if they are enjoying what they’re doing.
Put it all together and you’ll know whether to stay or turn around, leave, and look elsewhere. Also, know that the locals always reveal their smarts. That is, at lunch time in metro America, go to the restaurant with the longest waiting line. At any time in the country, go to the restaurant that’s surrounded by the most pickup trucks.
Within one minute after walking into a motel or hotel, you can quickly find out what to expect during your stay — regardless of size, type, location, and whether chain or “mom and pop.” Just approach the registration desk, preferably while the clerk is busy, and look behind it. The whole area should be clean. Everything back there, only the minimum needed to transact business, should be neatly and properly positioned. That includes paperwork plus such items as pens, staplers, and paper clips. And surely I don’t need to mention tangled or draped electrical extension cords.
Also, the condition of the floor will almost always reflect what the owner or manager thinks is not only good enough for the employees behind the desk, but also good enough for you in your room. Finally, the clerk’s demeanor and attitude will likely reflect those of all employees. If you’re dead tired and don’t want to bother with such things, just check in, go to sleep and check out early. Otherwise, remember that I told you so.
In case you might be wondering if this strategy can also be applied to people you meet, the answer is a definite yes. So as a bonus, here’s how that works.
Within one minute after meeting a stranger, you’ll know whether relating with that person could lead to an enjoyable and potentially useful relationship. Here are the critical points: The other person must show immediate curiosity or enthusiasm, be it a handshake or bump, nod of the head, or other signal showing immediate interest. The person must look directly at you while listening and speaking.
Preferably within the first thirty seconds, they must ask you a question and within the first minute, comment on something you’ve said. The person should sense that time wise, the conversation is to be more or less equally shared and in non-competitive fashion. A good score tells you their interest in who and what you are is about the same as your interest in them. Any less, and best you politely disengage and depart.
There are exceptions to all rules of thumb, including these. Still, they’ll give you a logical start in dealing with the everyday usual.