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Eating Out

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
I've never had a real desire to own or run a restaurant, but if I did I think I could do a better job of it than some of the places I've managed to stumble into. Today, for example, I was driving around with my wife and we decided to try a place that we had stopped going to a year ago, because the food and the service had gotten really bad.

Since they were still open, I'm thinking one of two things, either the food and service has improved or maybe there isn't any accounting for taste and the place is still the same as it was back then.

For those of you who are new to the eating out game, let me give you a few clues on what to look out for. Number one clue that should set off a big red flag in your mind is when the place is practically empty at lunch. The second thing that should bother you is when you are being taken to your table the hostess tells you that she doesn't seem to have enough menus for the two of you and can you share? The third thing to be wary of is when no one comes back to your table to see if you want something to eat. This is very important in a restaurant. In fact this is probably the most important thing to look for.

I'm looking around and see a total of three people sitting patiently at their tables, no food is being served. The waitress brings us the (THE) menu and we decide on something simple ..like a hamburger. How can you mess that up?

However, before we can order, the waitress brings us two glasses of water. One glass has lipstick on it; the other has a black hair floating in it. The lipstick doesn't match my wife's shade and as you can tell by my picture, I don't have black hair or any other kind as well. We point this out to the waitress who is now involved in an argument with a guy with a hair net (he does have black hair) and he is pointing something out to the five of us still sitting there. I hear the waitress say…"Take more water to the lady with the blue blouse."

In a few moments the hair netted black hair bus boy person returns with two glasses of water, which he takes to a lady in a red dress that already has water on her table. She picks up the glasses and brings them over to us…..we notice that she is smiling and rolling her eyes as well. We hand our menu to her so she can read it. She may want something more than a hamburger. Who knows?

The aforesaid waitress has not taken an order from any of us and stands in the doorway and announces that she is sorry for the delay, but someone called in to make reservations for a party of eleven and they're going to be there in about thirty minutes and she needs to set up their table. The hair netted black hair bus boy person is now standing behind the bar drinking a coke. He makes no attempt to help her set the table for the party of eleven or wait on us. His cell phone rings, he turns his back and starts a long conversation with someone, laughing and carrying on. He must have heard a really funny joke, since he stops the waitress as she is headed towards the five of us and motions for her to come over, then he whispers the joke or story to her and she starts laughing.

Time passes.

I'm thinking this is not good and tell my wife to get up and let's find some other place for lunch. We head for the front door in full view of the waitress; the hair netted black hair bus boy person, and some other person with an apron on, who I presume is the cook. They make no attempt to speak to us or ask what is wrong. As we are leaving we hear the hair netted black hair bus boy person telling the joke to the now present cook.

The lady in the red dress has already made it to the door and holds it open for us.

"Life is too short for nonsense like this", she says.

I nod in agreement and notice the other table has made their move to the door as we are driving out of the lot.

I'm certain the incoming party of eleven will get the full attention of the entire wait staff since there isn't anyone left to serve. I'll scratch this place off my list and will wait until the joint gets torn down and rebuilt before I'll chance going back. No fool me.

The lady was right…."Life is too short for nonsense like this".

So, is the lunch hour.

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America >

August 17, 2006 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to www.pearyperry.com
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