Welcome back my dear readers. I know I usually wait until later in the week to post a new blog and usually it is in the evening but tonight this blog just couldn’t wait. As most of you know I work two jobs. My primary job at a museum and my secondary job as a waiter, this blog comes to you from the deep recesses of the latter.
I’ve been waiting tables for fourteen years now and I have become pretty good at assessing people and what they want not just from what time they come into the restaurant but also from the way the immediately set aside the regular menu and grab the “Early Bird Menu”. Now, I’m not bashing the early birds. Don’t think for a second I am. I myself think it’s a great deal. 8.99 for a three course seafood meal… where do I sign up? The problem comes in when people make mad dashes for the door at 6:25 and try to order their food even before they are seated just so they can get a half size portion of dinner for 3 bucks less. It gets to the point where you just don’t even want to go to the table until after 6:30 and watch the squirm and make excuses as to why the deserve to have the inexpensive meal.
Oh, I should explain, the early bird is only good from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm. 90 minutes of insanity. Fun times.
I’m going to back up a bit. Like all decent restaurants we have a nice leather bound reservation book. A book I try to check before each shift so that I have an inkling as to what sort of mayhem we will be enjoying for the night. Going through the list of names I saw one… let’s call the last name Creecher, with a reservation for 6:30 and a note saying 50th birthday and next to the note a table was assigned to them. That table was in my section and I made a mental note to make sure to wish the birthday person a “Happy Birthday” when they arrived. I didn’t get the chance.
The woman, apparently the wife of the birthday boy, arrived a full hour early and announced to everyone in the restaurant it was her husband’s birthday. She then went about decorating the table with Hershey’s Kisses, a bit of birthday confetti and trying to make everything perfect for her life partner. I didn’t mind, I offered some soup and wine, she accepted and I promptly brought it to her. She was happy. We made a bit of small talk, her telling me about her hubby’s birthday and me assuring her that I would do my best to make everything as perfect as possible. I then went on to give my attention to the rest of my tables, knowing she would be ok by herself for at least 15 minutes.
At a lull in my duties I stopped by to check on her and she asked about champagne and sparkling wine. I told her we were out of champagne but we have several types of sparkling wine which would suit her purposes perfectly, especially since she only wanted a glass for herself and her husband. I went on about my duties. Around 6:25-6:30 she waved me down and said she is ready to give me their order even though her husband was still not at the restaurant. I took her order, two early bird meals, and went on about my way. When I realized what time it was I went back to her and told her that by the time her husband got to the restaurant the early bird special would be over. She then informed me she had been there since 5:30 and she qualifies. I told her the order had to be in the kitchen by 6:30. She argued. I smiled and nodded and told her it was company policy. A few minutes later the owner came up to me and told me to place the order. I did.
I brought out her salad and her husband’s salad, wine and I even brought out his soup even though he wasn’t there. She asked if she had gotten me in trouble, I said no and I hope she enjoyed her meal. I was upset and I couldn’t understand why. The birthday boy arrived at ten minutes to seven. What waited for him was a lukewarm salad, lukewarm white almost sparkling wine and cold soup. He had no sooner sat down when I brought out his meal and his wife’s meal. I was still upset at the whole situation and I couldn’t put my finger on why.
After they paid and left and I had a few minutes to think about the whole situation I figured it out. This is the revelation I had…
Here is a woman who cares so much for her husband she shows up a full hour early before the reservation, decorates the table, tries to make everything perfect for the man she loves and then decides she wants to save a whole six bucks on her meal by ordering it twenty minutes before he gets there. He got to enjoy a warm salad and cold soup along with room temperature wine because the woman who loves him so dearly thinks more of six dollars than her man’s gastronomical enjoyment.
That’s what bothered me the most. The hypocrisy of the situation. Her public announcement for the love of her life and trying to make everything perfect and then her unwilling attitude towards following the house rules, so much so that she went to the owner and complained. I don’t understand it and that is the cause of my frustration. I know money is tight everywhere and most folks don’t have too much disposable income, but when it comes to birthday of the one person you share your life with you should at least be able to have a decent meal within the boundaries of your economical level. Even if that means spending an extra six bucks to ensure the food is prepared and presented the way it should be. Meaning, salad served cold, wine served cold, soup served HOT!
Truth be told, the man looked like he enjoyed his meal. I don’t think I would have. I don’t think most people would. I know in my life, a life filled with lonely holidays and birthdays, if someone wants to celebrate and surprises me or comes to see me to spend time with me, I as a host or guest of honor try my best to make sure everything is perfect for everyone. And, if I am the one who puts together a celebration, I make damn sure everything goes well and money be damned. Money comes, money goes, but the memory of the people who took their time to enjoy time and conversation with me or those around me will last at least one lifetime.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, Enjoy the people in your life and try not to worry about the six bucks.
Have a great week.