Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Cut to a scene in a local casual restaurant. A group of people are sitting together trying to look as if they all want to be there, when really they would rather be home watching TV. Or pulling out their arm hairs one by one. But for the sake of appearances, here they are. Together. The prepubescent waitress takes the orders, asking way more questions than seems possible. People have built rockets with fewer specifications. As part of the order we ask for a common substitution on a child's meal. The waitress smiles and says "No problem" before disappearing for the next hour or so. Finally, dishes begin appearing at the table. It seems that no matter the specifications she decided to do whatever she darn well pleased anyhow - something that seems the rage with all the ten year old girls these days. The frustration and confusion was only increased by the fact that it seems most of the patrons at the table cannot remember WHAT they ordered and stare blankly at the plates as though they have never seen food before. We did some switching (You ordered the RIBS you idiot. Now give me back my chicken) and exchanging of items from plates (Is that my cole slaw? I think this tarter sauce is yours). We notice a few missing items and ask for them. The waitress, who is so young that it is pushing the limits of child labour laws - replies "No problem" before once again disappearing for the rest of the meal. This prompts one member of the party to get up and approach the hostess area to request the missing items again. Not because she cares one way or the other, but because if she hears one more complaint from a diner at her table who refuses to speak up for themselves yet feel they have to constantly moan and bitch to their tablemates, she just may stab somebody with a fork. She explains the problem, and the hostess (who looks like she might be the waitress's younger sister) promises to right the problems. Upon being thanked politely, she replies "No Problem". The customer grits her teeth and fakes a smile while she stiffly walks back to the table, where it seems world war three has broken out because somebody needs the salt, nobody is passing the salt, and no they did not ASK for the salt, people should just know to PASS it. Before said customer can pick up the salt and lob it at the person nattering away about it, her DH intervenes to take it from her and calmly pass it down, along with the pepper. Which the salt-coveter cringes away from as though it was made of molton lava while screeching "I never asked for the pepper!". The hostess never returns with the missing items. Two people decide to abandon their dinners and just leave because how can they be expected to eat without lemon wedges for their water and that extra spoon? The third person in their party has cleared his plate (and parts from other people's plates) but they decide since their dinner was ruined they shouldn't have to pay for ANY of it and walk out. Another couple has finished their dinners and cannot sit for even another minute because there is a draft at THIS table. They wanted that OTHER table after all. The last time they were here they sat at that OTHER table and it wasn't drafty and the waitress brought extra butter for the rolls and they all had spoons and it is too bad we didn't sit over THERE instead. Conveniently, they forget their food has to be paid for. Four people are left. The salt coveter, who blanketed her plate with salt the moment she got it decided that everything was too salty (I mean, why bother tasting it first right?) and unedible. And she doesn't think that was what she ordered anyway. She isn't sure what she ordered, but she has a feeling it wasn't this salty mess. She has been eating off one of the other plates and is full, but wants somebody to get a container so she can take the rest of her unedible salty meal home for later. Apparently taking it home neutralizes sodium. Oh no, she can't ask for a container herself, what would people think? No, let the bike riding whore ask for the container. The husband has diligently worked on the food on his plate, head down and not seeing anything around him. He looks up from his plate (empty except for the carcass of part of a chicken) as he wipes his hands and drops his cloth napkin into the lake of gravy he left behind, and seems shocked to see that the party has shrunk quite a few members. The remaining child is finished her dinner and trying to score an extra roll from one of the other plates. Our customer gives her roll to the child, since she has no appetite. While chasing waitresses for containers and hostesses for lemons her food got cold and she has a headache from all the bitching about the table only having one dish of sugar packets to go around and somebody took an extra butter so a person who wanted four for their roll the size of a postage stamp was disappointed. The hostess returns with the bill and some takeout containers. The child decides she needs to use the washroom and the customer goes with her to supervise the washing up (you know, to make sure actual water touches actual hands and stuff). Upon returning to the table she sees that ALL the food had been scraped into one large, very packed take-out container. Chicken and ribs and leftover bits of half eaten roll, gravy and fries and rice and canned peas, mashed potatoes and soggy salad and drippy cole slaw all mixed together like some kind of nightmare lasagne. Her entire meal (which she was planning on reheating at home and eating in the closet) has been swept into that container apparently. "For the dog" the salt coveter exclaims happily. Her salt lick of a meal has been carefully transferred into a smaller container, hermetically sealed and ready to take home and eat later. "Why waste it". Husband disappears to warm up the car while the child eats the dessert that comes with the kid's meal. The salty lass puts on her coat and decides to join the poor man in the car, since he must be so lonely and she cannot believe his wife would let him just sit out there like that. Never mind his wife thought he was going to turn the car on then COME BACK rather than sit in the cold like an ijit. As the customer sits and watches the child drip caramel sauce into her hair and stickify herself from the waist to the elbow, she is just glad that it is finally quiet. Then she realizes something. Everybody has left, and she has no way to pay the bill. Not a penny. Not a credit card. Not an able body part to wash dishes, even. She could probably convince them to use the child as forced labour, after all she has a lot in common with the rest of the child labour there - they can talk Hannah Montana in the kitchen to pass the time. But before she can make such arrangements, the husband comes in to see what is taking so long. The salty mother tagged along as well, with a disapproving look on her face. Her dog is all alone, you know. And how long can she be expected to sit holding these take-out containers, hmmmmm? The bill gets paid, and the customer notices that the tip is more than lacking, it isn't even enough for the child-waitress to buy some candy. She cajoles the husband into placing more bills and some change down. As the customer is packing up the child, the husband and the salty lady have disappeared once again into the car. The waitress and one of her sand box playmates are waiting for the table to be abandoned so they can clear it and are all but tapping their feet as coats are zipped and scarves are tied and hoods are adjusted. The customer looks up wearily and says "Sorry about that. The table is yours now". To which the server-toddler replies "NO PROBLEM". And then the customer spontaneously combusted.