My friend S and I were escaping our children, I mean, having a nice lunch out today. We were at one of my favorite places to get a good soup and salad; Olive Garden.
I’m quite fond of Olive Garden although it is not our first choice for a nice lunch out. Our first choice is a little hole-in-the-wall place that was here just long enough for us to establish a routine. It was a nice quiet place with mediocre food, good coffee, nice waitresses and a so-so atmosphere. The thing that kept us coming back was the fact that you could sit there all afternoon and they would never make you feel like you were taking up space they needed; they’d just keep bringing the coffee and smile. They also had regulars. You know the type; older people so set in their ways that they go to the same restaurant and order the same thing every time, so much so that the waitress does not really even take their order, she just says “The Usual?” to which we’d, I mean, the old regulars would reply “Yep.” and that was that.
Sadly this nice little hole-in-the-wall closed about a year ago and S and I have not been able to find a replacement, so we just wander aimlessly from restaurant to restaurant, lost and confused. We have to tell the waitresses our orders every time, and they don’t ever ask us how we are and how are our kids. It is really hard.
So back to today; we were having soup and salad at Olive Garden, having a good old time having complete sentences, and not wiping up any spilled juice, when we began to notice a tension in the air. If it had not been raining for the last 10 days I’m sure the air would have crackled.
Apparently the people at the booth across from us were not at all happy with our waitress. It is a long story I won’t bore you with (I’m nice like that) but suffice it to say, the poor waitress was about to cry. She was new and a bit slow, and she did have to be asked twice to refill my diet Coke, but because she was so sweet and apologetic, that oversight was forgivable. Apparently whatever egregious error she had committed was not a forgivable to the ladies in the booth next to us.
They bawled her out, and then complained vigorously about her to the manager. I really felt so bad for the girl, she was trying hard. Really these ladies were so rude to this poor thing that they had her scared spitless! After the ladies harangued the manager, Ester-the-waitress went meekly over to their booth to apologize, and stood ramrod straight awaiting the tongue-lashing she knew she was about to receive. I was cringing for her.
It was at this time that S and I decided we should take our leave. Because really, a girl can only take so much tension while escaping from her children, um I mean, having a nice lunch out.
On our way out we spotted some other friends and chatted with them for a few minutes, then we went to our cars and we chatted some more in the parking lot. (I just love listening to someone who does not start every sentence with “Mom can I?”)
I then hopped in my car to head back home. I started my car and put it in reverse as I watched my friend drive away. It was at this precise moment I realized we had not paid our bill. Just like that, the thought slammed through my brain. NO, surely this could not be right, we had paid. Of course we had paid. Hadn’t we? I sat in my car for a good 2 or 3 minutes trying to conjure up the memory of paying the bill. I could not retrieve it from my brain.
After I tried calling S several times with no luck, I figured I’d better go in and face the music. I had two possibilities: either I’d paid and I was about to go in and make a complete fool of myself, or I had walked out without paying, thus already making a complete fool of myself. Neither option was appealing.
I walked back into the restaurant and asked the hostess if she could get Ester for me. Ester came from the back of the restaurant looking pale and miserable. One look told me that, yes I had indeed walked out of a restaurant pretty-as-you-please, without paying the bill. She was very gracious and accepted my apology for walking out without paying and took my money and thanked me for coming back to pay. While I was there I figured I might as well go all out, and I asked the hostess if I could speak to the manager. When the manager came out I told him how I felt that poor Ester got a bum rap from those ladies and she had been a great waitress for us and I thought those other ladies had been quite rude to poor Ester. I conveniently left out the part where my friend and I left the premises without paying.
Oh my goodness gracious people, I need a keeper!