Whatever Happened to Restaurant Service?

I’m the type who likes to put anything edible that has to be warmer than room temperature in a microwave and have it do its thing in five minutes or less. I then gobble up the food and wonder why my digestive tract has a difficult time breaking down what gets tossed into it.

Anyway, my niece picked a so-called fancy restaurant to celebrate her mother’s- my older sister- special birthday. I had no problem going to a restaurant. It was just that I knew it would not be a happy situation.

My brother and I arrived and noticed how dark it was inside. I knew right away that I was not gonna be happy because the entire dining area at the fancy joint was dimly lit. Was this because they didn’t want us to see what was put in front of our eyes?

They tried to fool us into believing the eatery would be a grand experience. The greeter asked us while we waited for the rest of our party near the front entrance if we wanted refreshments. I quickly caught on, being a worldly guy, that this was not an offer to swig down a bottle of pop for free. So I politely asked for a glass of water. The hostess returned with it along with a straw resting inside between the crushed ice. Hmm…

Once seated, the waitress, excuse me- server- came over quickly and took down what the six of us wanted. We all ordered entrees but no appetizers. This apparently was a major mistake. Actually, I was going to order pumpkin soup but I smartly waited to be the last to tell the waitress my desires figuring I would see what the protocol was going to be. After all, my brother-in-law was paying for this. Everyone else ordered just an entrée so I reluctantly did the same.

After a half hour of squinting while chatting with the others at our table and trying to scout the room for friends or acquaintances , the server finally returned but just with the sushi my brother ordered. She said that the rest of us would get what was coming to us in a couple more minutes. Make a note- usually when someone says that you are going to get what is coming to you- it is not a good omen.

Fifteen minutes later, the restaurant employee drifted by our table again, and I snidely but somewhat quietly mentioned that she had promised us fifteen minutes earlier that our food would show up very quickly. She smiled as if I was speaking a foreign language- and looking at her, it probably was. She ignored responding.

Although they were famished as well, my siblings told me to cool it reminding me that there was already a long list of places I could no longer enter due to expressing my opinion about the service a little too loudly. For example, there was a steakhouse owned by a jerk- there, I said it- with whom I got into a loud disagreement after the meal. His busboy threw into a large garbage bin outside the building something I had accidentally left on the table. I had come back within less than five minutes after realizing it. I asked the jerk- sorry, I mean owner- to retrieve it from the garbage and he asked me to leave. (Okay, that’s the short story). Needless to state, I very loudly promised him that I would never step foot in his establishment again. So far, five years or so later, I have kept my promise.

The food was finally served in our ebony enclave. The wait was not worth it. There was ample portion but there was a definite feeling later that night as if someone had tried to poison me. The server had warned me to take the garlic and olive oil seasoning as opposed to the lemony one but I think it was a set-up.

We all noticed how dark it looked outside and thought maybe the sky was overcast due to threatening rain. It wasn’t until we left the building at about 8pm along with Elvis- I could swear it was him- did we notice how bright it still was. I recalled the same feeling when I used to go to Sunday afternoon movie matinées. Despite the dark setting, at least at the theater I had something to enjoy.

I had hoped my niece would pick another fancy eatery where the wait to be served was not much better but at least you could see what you were waiting for. Hey, patience is a virtue but who said I was virtuous?

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