Thoughts While Being Abandoned by the Waiter
Friends, this week’s column first appeared back in Spring 2019. I rarely repeat a column so I hope you’ll pardon me this week as I rerun this one. I’m busy with prep work for a friend’s wedding (Congrats Ashley and Brett!) and as we all know time can get away from you quickly when you’re in the middle of lots of double-checking. I’ll be back with something new next week.
I walked into the restaurant alone, feeling OK about life and hungry. It had been a long day and I thought I would treat myself to a nice, quiet meal. It was a Tuesday and the restaurant I had chosen was oddly hopping on that particular weeknight. Did I miss that it was some kind of holiday? It’s spring so I knew it wasn’t Jack Klugman Day and Bert Convy’s birthday isn’t till July. Maybe this place is just so popular that every waking moment that they’re open it’s full of people.
I walked up to the host station and said I was here to eat. I sometimes feel nervous about saying I’m here to eat alone. I imagine judgmental looks from non-existent people. The thought of saying aloud “Oh, just me tonight” for dinner followed by gasps, plates dropping, and the sound of a child saying “Mommy, mommy! What’s wrong with that man? Why does no one want to eat with him?” followed by the mother quickly shushing the child. None of this happened, the host just marked down a table with the little grease pencil and then led me to it.
I sat down at the table and was told my waiter would be with me shortly. I unfolded the menu and began to look it over. It looked good, and my hunger increased. My waiter came around after I had about a minute or so to give it all a glance, they asked for my drink, and a few moments later they were back with it. I knew I wasn’t quite ready to order, as I was having a few micro-debates in my brain over which item I wanted. I told the waiter to come back in a few, and they disappeared into the ether of the restaurant.
Much like an NCAA bracket, I was whittling contenders down in my brain till I had just two left. What felt like five minutes went by and I finally decided on the dish I was going to order. I folded my menu and placed it on the table, sliding it a few inches away from me, the international sign of “I am ready to order now, thank you.” I looked around to see if my waiter was buzzing around anywhere near my table. They weren’t, so I assumed they were in the back to get food for another table.
A minute passed, I picked up my phone and began idly looking over Twitter to pass the time. Another minute passed, and still no sign of the waiter. I switched over to Instagram. I became more invested in Instagram and suddenly realized that it had been about seven minutes since I picked up my phone. “Well, it’s a busy night, they’ll be here soon,” I thought and began to check out Facebook.
By now a full fifteen minutes had passed since I sat the menu down. I began to be concerned that something happened to my waiter, however, when I looked up from my phone I could see them in a distant part of the restaurant taking food to another table. I placed my phone down as I now thought they’d be back to me in no time. Sure enough, they began to walk towards the section my table was in, went right up to another table, and took their order.
Was it me? Was it something I said? Did I forget to put on my human mask that covers my up true, hideous alien form? I looked in the reflection of my phone. Nope, I looked like I always do. Did I say something without realizing it? Did I show up on a day where the thought of a lone diner on a quest for hunger and justice was going to be too much of a pain to deal with? My anxiety took over and I began to wonder about all the ways that I somehow brought an aura with me that said: “avoid this man at all costs.”
Did I forget the deodorant? Did I look like I bathed myself in kerosene and washed my hair with lighter fluid? Why did they decide to shun me? Is there a secret Facebook group that knows where I’m going to eat and likes to mess with me? What on earth was the reason? Other than a busy restaurant on a weekday night where they might be slightly understaffed. My anxiety soon switched to determination. I was going to stay here until I ate, I didn’t care how long it took. I could keep this up for days. They could have fired the entire staff and hired new people and I wouldn’t budge until someone took my order and brought me food.
After what was almost a solid thirty-five minutes, my waiter finally returned to my table, pad in hand, ready to take my order. As the waiter stood there, I noticed a few things. They were out of breath, and sweaty, and their clothes were covered in blood. “Sorry about the wait,” they said “one of the chicken’s in the back re-animated and we had a hell of a time trying to get things under control. Anyway, our specials today are…”
Just goes to show you how silly our minds can be, where something as simple as a zombie chicken attacking everyone in the chicken, can cause us to think that we have an issue and are unappealing to the world at large. Keep this in mind the next time you’re out having dinner and notice it takes the wait staff a while to get back to you. There could be all kinds of battles going on behind those swinging doors. See you next week.