It’s time to exchange those unwanted “gifts”

“Hello,” said the host at the front desk. Since we weren’t open yet and the front door was locked, I knew she must be on the phone. The only sound in the restaurant was me slicing limes, and in truth that is not much sound at all.

Some people miss the lunch shift, but I am not one of them. If one must rely on someone else to set up for the evening shift, then one often gets disappointed. However, if you only have yourself to blame, one tends to be gentler in one’s criticisms. Or so I have noticed.

 “No sir, I cannot help you with that,” replied the host.

 “Because we aren’t affiliated at all with that restaurant.”

 Sometimes only hearing one side of a conversation is enough to understand the whole conversation.

“No, I don’t know anyone there.”

“I understand that you are a regular customer, but as I said, we have nothing to do with that restaurant.”

I had now switched to silently slicing lemons.

“No, he’s not here.”

“No, I cannot give you his cell number.”

Oranges were next on the docket.

“If you’d like to come here, I can probably help you.”

“Have a nice day.”

This time of year is a time of exchanges. Not of presents between people, that was a few weeks ago. Now is the time of exchanging unwanted gifts for wanted ones. If only that were true of experiences. With the first post pandemic holiday season now safely under our belts, there are few I might want to turn in, including that one with the host. I know she would.

“That will be $32.83,” I said, noting that computers calculate tax, where in the old days you would have had to do that in your head. And nobody was going to do that.

The man picked up the drinks, looked at me and then walked away through the bustling crowd turning once sideways this way, and then sideways the other way.

There were at least 60 people in that little room, tripled up at the bar. Some of them were behaving, some weren’t, and some were somewhere in between.

I had just told a woman that her borderline racist language wasn’t welcome, and was just about to find out why a hamburger was taking too long, and now I had to chase a guy through the crowd to get payment.

“Do you want to run a tab?” I asked after turning this way and that way myself.

“Yes,” he said looking at me icily.

“Then we need to hold a credit card.”

“Is John here?”



“I don’t know who that is.”

He then made a huge deal out of getting out his credit card, huffing and puffing the whole time. Meanwhile that burger still hadn’t appeared and that woman’s comments were no longer borderline.

“Sam’s going to hear about this,” said the man playing a weird sort of keep away with his credit card.

“Great,” I said over my shoulder walking back through the crowd sideways and steeling myself for two even more uncomfortable interactions. I turned around and noticed that he had followed me back.

“Was there something else?” I asked.

You would have thought I slapped him.

“Can’t I stand here?” he said.

Eight minutes ago, he ran away and didn’t return when his return was required, and now he is making an issue out of me asking him if he needed something. Damned when you do and damned when you don’t.

Later the manager told me that “some guy” looking for a “Sam” complained about the “new guy,” which made both of us chuckle.

The final exchange I’m actually thinking about keeping. It might not fit, and it was uncomfortable in the moment, but in retrospect it could be one of the funniest things I have ever heard.

The woman had tugged on the managers arm, which people often do, obviously not realizing that unwanted physical contact can be rude, and perhaps even illegal. But I don’t think she really cared about the first. She just might care about the second, depending.

“I need you to split this check up seven ways, with these various amounts on these various cards.”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but our policy is no more than four cards, and all equal values.”

“Are you so f*cking incompetent that you can’t’ do simple math?”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but that’s our policy.”

“I thought the customer was always right.”

“Well,” said the manager calmly. “You ceased being right once you called me incompetent and used profanity.”

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-Maybe the issue with the daytime setup was my issue all along? Naw, that’s just crazy talk.

-If you do know the owner or the manager, trust me, he/she is going to be pissed that you refused to follow a simple policy. A policy that he/she probably implemented. 

-Whoever coined the feminized demeaning terms “diva” and “princess” obviously never had to wait on middle aged men.

-Yep, I am definitely keeping that last one.