I am now officially “one of those people.” I didn’t mean to be, but there I was, 10 minutes to 9 p.m. with no dinner at home and the only option being fast food I have written many times about people who come into a restaurant at the last minute, so I do understand the dynamic. But having been on the other side, I also know that open is still open.
“Is the kitchen still open?” I asked the hostess still manning her post at the front door and confirming what I already knew. Their hours were posted conspicuously right next to her. And besides, why would a hostess still be there if the restaurant was closed?
“Do. Or do not. There is no try”
“For a few more minutes,” she said, handing me a menu.
I sat at the bar that dominated the center of the room. The only other person there was a young blonde sipping a glass of wine on the far other side.
The dining room was about a third full of people finishing their meals and the manager was still flitting from table to table as managers are wont to do.
Considering the circumstances I made sure that I knew what I wanted, and was ready to go as soon as I got the opportunity. A cheeseburger and a glass of wine and I was going to be gone. Fifteen minutes, 20 at the most. But, my being prepared was only half the equation.
The bartender was nowhere to be found.
By the time he appeared, we were now looking at doubling that figure.
What followed was one of the most uncomfortable encounters I have had in the restaurant business. This bartender, whom I’ll call Chad literally threw, slid or dropped all the necessities required. And yes I do mean literally, not figuratively. I am a writer after all.
Napkin roll, tossed. Water, slid down the bar. Wine glass, dropped on the bar with a slight bang.
Suddenly that fast food place looked a whole lot better.
The young blonde on the other side of the bar was having a different experience. He refilled her glass several times, never dropping, tossing, or sliding anything anywhere near her. Rarely have I ever used the word fawned, but it seems particularly relevant here.
Meanwhile, BANG! went the dishwasher door. CRASH! went the bottles into the recycling bin. All on my side of the bar.
The flitting manager took notice, but didn’t say anything, not to Chad and certainly not to me. I’ve often noticed that in the restaurant business sometimes the worst employees rarely get a complaint. Odd I know, but people seem to sense that employee’s employment is limited or that their complaint is going to fall on deaf ears or some combination.
So, I finished my burger and left in record time, only slowed by my holding open the door for the young blonde.
Since that night three things have happened:
• I have not been back to that restaurant, and I used to go there a lot.
• One young blonde might be reconsidering her potential new beau after witnessing a particularly unpleasant side of him.
• Chad is probably looking for a new job.
Leaving me with these further thoughts:
• If you are open, then be open. Outright hostility has absolutely no place in the hospitality industry. “Do. Or do not. There is no try,” said Master Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back.”
• “Better take the rotten apple from the hoard than let it lie to spoil the good ones there,” wrote Geoffrey Chaucer in “The Cook’s Tale” included in “The Canterbury Tales.” As it turns out, as apples ripen they produce a gaseous hormone called ethylene, which, among other things, is a ripening agent. The riper the apple the more ethylene it emits, causing a ripening effect on other apples around it. Overripe apples produce the most ethylene and can cause a concentration that will eventually cause the other apples to overripen or even rot. Take that, Osmonds.
• “Rudeness is merely the expression of fear. People fear they won’t get what they want. The most dreadful and unattractive person only needs to be loved and they will open up like a flower,” said M. Gustave, concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel, in Wes Anderson’s recent movie of the same name. Which makes me wonder what Chad wanted to get? But then I think I know already.
• So far, not liking being “one of those people.”