I worked lunch today and as a result of Princess Persnickity’s usual tardiness had eight tables at 12:30. I was a tad busy. We realized much later in the day that some stupid email lunch promo coupon went out this morning, which explains the uncharacteristic “12:15 on a Tuesday afternoon onslaught”. Of course when I mentioned the new coupon, the General Manager, who had been busy attending to personal business during the rush, looked chagrined and said something like, “Oh. We got an email about those coupons. Is today the 25th?” At least she managed to look chagrined. That’s something, I guess.
Just in case you were worried, the locksmith agreed to come and change the locks on her house without a court order because she was able to provide him with a copy of the lease, on which her husband’s name does not appear. That no-good-cheating-bastard won’t be getting in tonight! I’m glad she was able to work that out during the short-staffed lunch rush. I was, as you can imagine, very relieved.
Sometimes I have this weird ability to conjure people. I can think or speak briefly about someone and within a few days they will appear in my life. It’s kind of spooky. Sometimes it’s awesome. Last year a grade-school chum who I had been talking about just days before, materialized in a most unusual place. We had a nice catch-up and currently keep in touch via Facebook. It’s not a pick-and-choose kind of a skill though. Plenty of times I manage to conjure people who I wouldn’t mind never seeing again for the rest of my life. I should be careful whom I mention, even in passing, but I’m not.
I should extend this carefulness to who I blog about. The other day I wrote about a former manager, who I referred to as “The Penguin”. Guess what? He was part of my eight table rush today. He came in with two women. I think he told me they were his cousins. I’d have to give a rat’s ass about him to listen to his blathering. I don’t.
I used to refuse to wait on him or any of his genetically-challenged relations. I did it once and that was enough. Believe me.
But today I had no choice, as I was the only available option. I was now really cursing Princess Persnickity’s lateness. The host, bless his adorable little heart, was kind enough to get them drinks and bread. I blew by the table, said “hello”, and told him I would be with him in a minute. I know he’s a pain in the ass, so I wanted to attend to my other tables before dealing with him and his inevitable nonsense.
Within seconds of leaving the table I noticed him shaking his empty glass at me. Really. Shaking his empty glass at me. I wanted to punch him in his one eye. Asshole. As I nodded in acknowledgement of his request, he said “less ice this time”. No please. Just “less ice this time” (wench, implied). Fucker.
I fetched his lightly iced beverage and went to the table where no pleasantries were exchanged, instead he points at the younger of the two women (if I had to guess I would put her age at about forty-five) and utters the following sentences, “We just came from the hospital, so we’re starving. Her daughter just died.” He said this while nodding in the direction of the younger woman. For fucking real! I looked over at the woman. She looked exhausted, sad, and distraught. Who wouldn’t? How old could her daughter have been? Definitely under thirty. Oh, my God! What the hell were they doing here?
I was, as you can imagine, dumbfounded. I just looked at her and said something hollow and ridiculous like “I’m so very sorry for your loss.” What else could I say? I felt so terrible for this woman. She looked like the last place she wanted to be at that moment was in a restaurant with this moron. Who could blame her? I’d be home shrieking and pulling my hair out, waiting for the sedatives to kick in. “The Penguin” then asked me, in his very next breath, which, God forgive me, should have been his last, “How is your daughter?” Holy shit. I pretended not to hear him. Seriously??? What the fuck?
Whether this woman heard him or not, I don’t know. She was probably not that focused on his conversation with me. She and the other woman, who also seemed numb and who may have been the younger woman’s mother, ordered burgers. They couldn’t have cared less about follow-up questions regarding temperature or sides, so I made those executive decisions for them (medium-well/fries). Oddly enough they just didn’t seem to be that into the whole dining experience. I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell they were doing here with him. Perhaps they had been kidnapped. That seemed the only logical explanation. Clearly he’s not a guy one turns to in moments of crisis, you know, for support. He’d be about the last shoulder anyone would choose to lean on.
He proceeded to order the largest steak we have. And he ordered it well done. So, he had committed to spending a decent amount of time enjoying his meal. In addition, instead of telling me how he wanted it, he decided to communicate in code. He actually seemed to be winking, though he always seems to be winking, what with the one eye and all, but there was something more deliberate about the way he was scrunching his cheek and the manner in which he was turning up his lip that led me to believe that he was, in fact, winking as he told me that he wanted the steak his “usual” way. When I disclosed that I had never actually taken note of his eating habits, he assured me that the cook would remember.
This required me to traipse back to the kitchen. Because I had time for this nonsense. And the poor women he was with? The ones who probably just wanted to pick at their food so they could get the hell home where they would, any normal person would assume, commence mourning. Aside from having some grieving to do, they had plenty of time for his shenanigans.
Of course the cook had no idea what the hell I was talking about. Ultimately, I just ordered his food and hoped for the best. He kind of looked at it when I served it. I got the impression he didn’t get his “usual”. Oh, well. I’ll try to throw my idiot decoder ring in my bag, so it’s handy on his next visit. Maybe I can expect him to return with folks who are planning a double suicide later in the day, you know, for their last meal. It’s likely they’d actually be happier than the poor ladies he dragged with him today.
When I gave him the discounted check (I guess it’s customary now to reward former managers— collecting a paycheck for all the years of his inefficiency wasn’t enough), he made some snide remark about me not asking them if they wanted dessert. Again, I failed to respond. I wanted to slice his tongue out. Served with a nice scoop of ice cream it might make for a fine dessert. The coldness might help with the pain and inflammation that, one can only hope, would be associated with this type of injury. While I was daydreaming about this I saw the woman reach for her wallet. And then it hit me. She was “repaying” him for something. A ride? Did he pick them up from the hospital? That had to be it. It all made sense now. This asshole had picked them up and then asked them to buy him a meal. At least he saved them some money, though. I guess that’s something. Not much, but something. Piece of garbage.
I watched them leave and get into his car. My suspicions confirmed, I said a little prayer to myself. I took a moment of silence to acknowledge the death of her daughter. Then, I thanked God or whoever for my healthy child. And for giving me the strength to resist committing an act of violence against “The Penguin”. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll conjure someone better.