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Tourist doesn't get the attraction

By Stephanie Ebbert
Globe Staff / March 4, 2009
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It's the place "where everybody knows your name."

But at Sam's Cafe at Cheers in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the waitress might just call you something you don't like.

A California couple visiting Boston for a wedding were surprised to discover that their waitress dubbed them "Older Couple," a description that appeared on the credit card receipt she gave them.

"I was like, 'Whoa! Wait a minute!' " Cheryl Fox, 55, said from California. "We're fit. We're healthy. We're active. Maybe I am considered an older person now, but I certainly don't identify myself that way."

"Oooh," cafe manager Pete Lydon said wincing. "That's not a good description of somebody."

Lydon acknowledged that Cheers servers use identifying information to keep track of their customers' orders, but he said the descriptions would typically be more straightforward and less subject to debate.

"We'd be more likely to do 'red hat' or 'Bruins shirt,' " said Lydon.

"Older," of course, is a relative term. Cheryl's husband, Alan, who is 66, was not offended. He laughed it off. But his wife felt typecast and was piqued enough to fire off an e-mail to the Globe. "That's an identifier, and how are they identifying other people?" she said.

The wait staff did not have many customers to remember on that Monday afternoon in January, she said. A table of two guys. A table of young female college students. And a group of older women.

But Cheryl Fox meant a lot older: "Probably 75."

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