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Apologies for the Inconvenience
March 20, 2000


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March 13, 2000
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From famine to feast -- you get two entries today. Click here to read the entry for March 13, which is also on the Previous link below and the date on the sidebar. There was a screw up and it didn't get uploaded. My apologies for the inconvenience.

Which reminds me, oddly, of last Wednesday Night.

I was visiting my parents, who had announced on Tuesday that they were going to drive to Pueblo to see my sister on Thursday, so I wanted to see them first and wish them well. I drove over after some medical stuff, then sat around and we talked. We talked about life and finances and medicine and work and lots of things. I like hanging out with my parents. They're good to me.

Well, we then decided to go out to eat. First we went to Valle's, which is a steakhouse which was very good in the olden days, but disappoints now. We saw the surly matre 'd, who took our names down.

Now, we could see empty tables and lots of them. Mom glanced over, saw them, and said "how long, approximately?"

"Oh," she said, "we need to wipe some tables off and clear them. It'll just be a second." So, we've established they have tables, it's just they haven't been cleaned yet. Right? Right.

Twenty minutes later, there are four other parties waiting behind us. And neither the Matre 'D nor a single waitress has wiped down a single table. And there have been no apologies for the inconvenience.

Now, I'm not particularly picky. I'm really not. I am, however, easily offended by bad service. As is my mother. So, we left and went to The Governor's, which is a wonderful family style restaurant that has a model train.

We were seated immediately, and a cheerful waitress came by and said she'd be right with us. We're already two up on Valle's.

And then... a different waitress came up to take our drink orders. She seemed a bit... off. Like she were swimming and had been treading water for a long time. "Ginger," it said on her name tag. It turns out that's not her name, but we will call her Ginger for the purposes of this essay. We ordered drinks with Ginger, and she slunk off. We didn't think much of it -- it was, after all, a busy night.

Ten minutes later, she brought our drinks and took our orders. She was pleasant enough -- the drinks took a while, certainly, but hey, it happens.

I asked her if I could substitute a broiled haddock for the stuffed fish on the Surf and Turf. Salt, you know. Ginger got a "deer in the headlights" look, then said "well... no... no you can't, I don't think." Clearly she didn't know, but I wasn't about to push it. I ordered the haddock. Dad ordered broiled chicken. Mom ordered clam tenders. We were happy.

Were is the operative word, here. We started talking.

And talking.

And running out of things to say.

And looking around.

Ginger stopped up to the table next to us, and I heard her say "hey, this is free tonight. I screwed up the order and you had to wait a long time so, y'know, this is free."

I asked Dad how long we had waited for our order. He said "forty-five minutes."

So we watched for Ginger. It was ten more minutes before she emerged and we could flag her down.

"Oh, yeah," she said. "Broiled food takes longer."

"It's almost been an hour," my father said.

"Sorry -- I'll go check on it right now."

So she left, and we had a few more chuckles at the expense of Ginger. Valle's wasn't seeming so bad, now.

Ten minutes later, the first waitress appeared. "Hasn't anyone taken your order?" she asked in shock.

"Yes," Mom said. "Ginger did. It's been over an hour though, and we haven't gotten our salads and bread, or drink refills." Dad just looked surly.

The waitress sort of gasped. "Well, I thought I was going to serve you, but someone else grabbed you out from under me. Let me go check on it and refill your drinks, though." She scooped them up and headed for the kitchen, even as Ginger came from the other direction.

"Um," she said, which is a bad sign. "The computer didn't 'take' your order, so it didn't go through, so they didn't know to make your food. I've put it through now. We'll give you some free desserts or something."

We stared at her in disbelief.

"Sorry," she said, and wandered away.

Over at the kitchen, we could see a couple of other waitresses stick their heads out of the kitchen and stare at us, looking shocked, then ducking back in. We (wait for it) waited.

A gentleman in a plaid shirt and a name tag that said "Matt" walked up to us. He practically "screamed" Manager. "Hi," he said, with a concerned look. "You've had a wait, I understand?"

"Over an hour," my father said. "Without bread, salads or drink refills. And we were just told that our food hasn't even been started yet."

Matt did an excellent job of looking chagrined, and began to apologize. Very much. He was incredibly sorry this had happened and he was going to run back and make sure our food was what was being cooked right now and no one else's. He'd be right back, he promised.

We got our food (wait for it) quickly, after that, with Matt delivering it himself, all apologies once again. And to be honest, it was about the best broiled haddock of my life. Of course, by then I was hungry enough to eat formica and call it "good." He offered us huge discounts on food and free desserts. I can't eat dessert and Dad won't, so we gave ours to Mom. But even though Governor's is famous for their pie and rightfully so, she decided she wanted something light and took three of their rice krispie squares. Which were brought over and dropped on the table, whereupon their sheer marshmellow density caused them to shatter the table and plunge through the floor into the crust of the Earth, sinking to the core where the specific density was increased and gravity shifted.

Well, not really, but you've never seen squares this dense before.

On our way out, Matt rung us up and again apologized for the inconvenience. I told him how good the fish was. Mom dragged the marshmellow squares, grunting.

And behind the kitchen bar, Ginger watched us go, and glared at us. I haven't seen such total hatred directed towards me in a long time. Ginger loathed us. I wonder if she'd already been fired at that point. We knew she'd screwed up another one as well. Maybe not. Maybe she just found us inconvenient with our hunger and surliness.

Well, I'm sure Ginger will have a good career at Valle's. They'll appreciate her there.

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