I had dinner with George last weekend. I will warn you that this article has nothing to do with my sobriety, except for the fact that in my old drinking days, the situation would have driven me to a fist fight… We went to an Asian fusion restaurant and we ordered: pot stickers to start, garlic spinach to share, salmon for me and chicken curry for him. And then we tried to catch up, but we had one of those overly robust waiters who unapologetically interrupts conversation. Every time we got on a roll with a subject, he’d pop into the discussion with another question – as if he were taking a survey.
I disliked him instantly. For no good reason, until he brought out our order with a flourish. The drinks were correct – the “splash” of cranberry a little sparse – George’s “woozy” of red wine in what looked like a reprocessed beer bottle, but the rest of the order was (to be honest and fair even though I disliked him) completely wrong…
I had salmon well enough, but George had chicken curry with spinach and there were no pot stickers. George and I looked at our plates as if we could conjure the right food by telekinesis and wait-boy grinned and said, “Anything else I can get for ya’?”
“Well,” said George, “We wanted to share the spinach and we didn’t get our appetizer.” The waiter did a sort of jazz hands, I’ll-fix-this, never-complain, furrowed brow and said, “Woah – I should have caught that!” He started to grab for George’s plate. George said, “This will be fine and don’t worry about the appetizer – just the spinach.”
“On it!” he said.
In a few minutes, our waiter swooped back into the convo like he was proffering cherries jubilee – with a large plate of raw, unadorned spinach. He placed it dramatically beside George’s dinner. George said (a little snippily), “What is this? We ordered cooked spinach to share…”
“Oh. Gee, I’m sorry about that!” He looked at us with a sad clown face, as if we were being overly demanding and sighed, “This is totally my fault. Sorry. I’m on it – hey, how’s that club soda treating you?” He picked up the plate of stiff greens and backed away. All that was missing were the Asian fusion, self-depreciating bows…
He returned with the spinach – cooked and delicious and left us in peace till the tail end when he set an IPad up on a tripod with deserts flashing at us (even though we said we didn’t want desert – am I knit-picking now?). With the bill, where (adding insult to injury) George was charged for two orders of spinach, he held up a sealed envelope.
With a greasy smile he said, “Guess what’s in here?” We just looked at him. “You’re gonna have to come back to see me, but there’s a surprise inside!” What, our pot stickers? It’s weird how you can loath someone you do not know…
A few days ago I got an email from George – he included a note from the owner of the restaurant who offered $50 off the next meal (the magic envelope) and the following note:
I will certainly use this as a coaching lesson for our staff.
I’m pretty sure our server got fired. Should I feel bad that I don’t feel bad?