Several ideas about conversation
Can there be more interesting conversation between wait staff and customers than "how was your pizza" ask over and over again to total strangers? How about everyone wearing a name tag with a list of topics that one is interested in. It could get the ball rolling, but maybe quality dialog does not pay the bills. If staff and customers really cared about each other, rather than just a plastic smile that the boss assigns, service might be slower. It takes some time to engage in deeper conversation, but maybe not too much time.
Here in Bellingham, there is a weekly community dinner for gay people. It started on my web site and Yahoo Group! Details on this dinner gathering. Open to all, but usually attended by gay men. Around 20 people attend. Different conversations take place up and down the table.
I recently heard an interesting radio interview about an organization called "Conversation Cafe."
Now, I just heard that they are doing one in Bellingham (April 2006). They meet in different Seattle area restaurants, including Bellingham now, and facilitate conversation. Check out their web site for more information. Exit to Conversation Cafe.
My Blog entry on the art of conversation.