In my line of work I run into any number of people who, on a good day, I like to call “garden-variety” idiots; on a bad day, I call them other things. Luckily, yesterday was a good day.
To distinguish the particular idiot that I’d like to discuss today from some of the other idiots I encountered yesterday, I’ll call him “French Onion Soup Guy”. While some of you would undoubtedly get a kick out of the antics of “Hamburger Bun Boy” or “Rare Steak Lady”, their stories will have to wait for another day — today we’ll be talking about soup — both in its larger context and as it pertains to “French Onion Soup Guy”.
It has been my experience that soup, unlike revenge, and unless it’s vichyssoise or gazpacho, is a dish best served hot. Generally, this is how we serve it — especially soup of the French onion sort. That being said, once in a while, folks will ask me to heat up their soup, as the temperature is not to their satisfaction. That’s fine. I have NO problem with making someone’s soup hotter. There is, however, a way to ask for such a thing to be done. Really, most requests for ANYTHING — in any aspect of our lives — are more likely to result in the desired outcome if we ask nicely — if we employ something as simple as manners.
You’d be amazed at the number of people who DO NOT know this — or, perhaps, they have abandoned the concept altogether — you know, for expediency or because they’re idiots. Whether their decision regarding the employment of polite behavior is a conscious one or one borne of having been raised by wolves, I’ll never know. It’s appalling, though, I’ll tell you that. I don’t know why this is, but I am especially irked when grown men behave this way — worse is when they do it in front of their children. I often wonder, if they feel comfortable with boorishness in public, what must they be like at home? Luckily, I’ll never have to find out.
For the record, I was the one who brought “French Onion Soup Guy” his soup. It was hot. So hot, in fact, that I was concerned that his young child — the one who was practically crawling on the table — was going to touch it and hurt herself. So, I said, “This is very hot, Sweetie. Please don’t touch it!” (I was, honestly, concerned for the kid. Because in a world where no one — except for me — seemed to notice that she was licking the salt shaker, I wasn’t convinced that her safety was of any real concern to the many wolves disguised as adults that were seated around her.)
About ten minutes after I delivered the soup, “French Onion Soup Guy” called me over to the table — and by “called me over to the table” I mean that he snapped his fingers as I was walking by — I was amazed that he had hands, rather than the paws one normally associates with animals of the Canis lupus species — he then shoved his soup at me, and said, “Hey! This is cold! I thought you said it was HOT! It’s supposed to be hot, right?”
As my hands were full of food that was making its way to another table, I shook my head in a positive manner. I was planning to say something along the lines of, “Yes, Sir. I’ll be back in a second when I can take the soup from you.” “French Onion Soup Guy”, perhaps thinking that I had another arm that sprouted, when necessary, from somewhere else on my body — wouldn’t THAT be handy? — continued to rattle his soup bowl at me while he said, “Hey! I’m talking to you. About my soup! About it being COLD!” At that point I just looked pointedly at my full hands, hoping he would get the message.
I should have known better — nuance, as it would turn out, was as lost on “French Onion Soup Guy” as it would be on a wolf. After depositing what was in my hands at the table behind him, I turned around to take his soup. He asked me why he was “still holding his soup?” Why I hadn’t “paid him any attention?” I explained, as briefly as possible — because I really wanted to limit my dealings with this idiot — that I had, indeed, “acknowledged” both him and his request, but was unable, owing to my lack of another hand, to remove his soup on his timetable. I assured him that I would rectify the problem. I promised him that he would have a hot soup as soon as possible.
What I wanted to say, but did not — as I have bills to pay and, thus, a job to keep — is that the very first rule of soup eating is that it should be consumed immediately upon presentation. If it is not, one of those laws of thermonuclear dynamics, put forth by a guy named Charles or Boyle — do I strike you as a woman who even vaguely remembers Chemistry 101? — acts upon the soup in such a way that causes it to LOSE heat. It’s shocking, I know, that people fail to grasp this very basic concept when it applies to something as simple as soup, isn’t it?
As a result of “French Onion Soup Guy’s” failure to consume his soup in a timely fashion, I had to endure his lack of manners, return the soup to the kitchen, have a conversation with people who have a limited grasp of the English language — our cooks — and who also get a little “tetchy” when they have to remake things, seek out and alert “French Onion Guy’s” server — no easy task, as this particular server has the uncanny ability to “disappear” whenever anyone is looking for him, particularly his customers — so that, together, we could try to get the soup back out to “French Onion Soup Guy” PRIOR to the arrival of his meal.
Unfortunately for ALL involved, I failed. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because I tasked the server — the one who had a real vested interest in getting the soup out — with making sure “French Onion Soup Guy” received his soup BEFORE the main course was ready to be served. Still in all, I consider it MY failure that I brought the entrees to the table without insuring that he had, indeed, consumed his replacement soup.
Well, I’m sure you can imagine the greeting I was met with when I brought the entrees to his table AND he still had not had his soup. I apologized. I took all of the blame. I assured him that some type of monetary compensation would be forthcoming when he received his bill. I asked him if he still wanted the soup. (When things like this happen, some people do still want the soup or whatever “starter” was forgotten — mainly, I think, because they know it will be free!)
“French Onion Soup Guy” did NOT want the soup. Was I “some kind of an idiot?” “Who would want to eat soup WITH their steak?”
It was really all I could do at this juncture in our relationship NOT to ask him if maybe he didn’t want it for his daughter, who I’d come to think of as “Little Wolf” — the one who was now, as far as I could tell, nibbling on the table leg. She appeared — even after having polished off an order of chicken fingers — to still be slightly peckish.
photo credit: bowl of steaming soup