I read Alex Witchel's article in the dining section of the NY Times this morning, and it struck a familiar note.
Some tables in restaurants are clearly better than others, and when I call well in advance to book one of the better ones, whether it's a special occasion or not, I don't expect a rather dim response.
"Will it be a special occasion?"
I beg your pardon?
"Well that depends entirely on the quality of your food and service doesn't it?"
And you'd generally expect somebody whose job it is to take reservations to know whether they can or can't provide a good table.
"We will do all we can to accommodate your request."
If you get this response, you have to make a call whether this is the kind of restaurant you want to be eating in anyway.
"Can't you just look in the book now, or are you waiting to see if somebody rich and famous walks in on that night and wants it instead?"