Monday, February 26, 2007

Turns out, Marriage is Hard.

Not a good weekend. It had its moments, definitely. Like getting to hang with Jen, Jen’s sister and niece and a few more fun folks. Then there was some excellent tequila drinking until 4 am. But, overall, I think this is one weekend I’d like to just wiped from the books.
Without going into too much detail, there were some lies discovered (to the tune of $1800. That’s ¾ of everything we’ve managed to save in the last 7 months. Let’s hear it for “Starting Over!”), and some continuing issues. Mostly everything is ok again, with the exceptions: still really tender feelings, the aforementioned depletion of savings, and that the whole “trying to get knocked up” thing is on official hiatus. Just not a good time to be thinking about babies with things being the way they are.

After that, I feel so wrung out, I can barely process anything. Luckily, all my work today is thumbing through pictures and cropping them. This is all I can handle.

So, since I’m trying not to let myself word-vomit all over the internet, I’m going to tell you another story.

My aunt turned 21 earlier this month, (Just don’t ask why I have an aunt who is 4 years younger than I am.) so on Thursday, the aunts and I all got together for margaritas and Mexican food.
They all live way out to hell and gone in the ‘burbs, and as such, the shindig was held about 40 minutes from my house. Sarah had a shitty day, so I convinced her to come with and at least have some fun sipping tequila and gossiping with the ladies.

We all got to the restaurant, a cute little Mexican restaurant that had recently opened. The permanent signs weren’t yet in place, there was still wet paint, it was that new. All the wait staff was actually Latino, which is usually a good thing when it comes to GOOD Mexican food.
For the first little while, it was just me, Sarah, my other aunt (not the 21 year old) Nancy, and her friend Cindy. Cindy has been my aunt’s friend for decades, and so we all know here pretty well. She’s a loud, brassy dame who usually I enjoy very much. We often joke that she’s my real mother, since we have so many attitudes in common.

The waiter came over to get our drink order; he was brand new on the job and it seems like he was not terribly comfortable with English. My bet, first job in a restaurant ever. He wasn’t quite sure the order of things, didn’t have table management skills at all. But, he was nice, and trying hard. Cindy was asking him about some things on the menu, while Nancy was ordering drinks and Sarah and I were chatting. Frankly, I didn’t hear Cindy order a drink, but that’s neither here nor there.

A few minutes later, the waiter comes back with 3 margaritas and 4 waters. About this point my other aunts, Donna and Joanna (the birthday girl) and my step-grandma Rita arrived. The waiter came back to get their drink orders, and Cindy snarkily pipes up, “Yeah, and I’d like my drink too, you know, whenever you find the time.” I thought it was a little harsh, but was willing to let it go.

We all get to chatting and the table is chaotic. The waiter tries to come back and get the order, and then everyone is talking to each other trying to decide on what to order. We decide on a sampler, and ask the waiter if that sounds like enough food. He smiles kind of shyly and says that it really doesn’t look like enough food. So, Sarah mentions that she’d like a quesadilla, and a few others echo the idea, so Nancy asks for two quesadillas, and a sampler, and asks again if that’s enough food. Now, we’re still all talking. That’s seven people all talking at once, at least two of whom are directing their chatter at the waiter. I have no idea what everyone else is saying, but I didn’t really catch what was finally ordered.
We keep drinking and nibbling chips and bean dip (Oh my lord, this place had salsa, salsa verde and hot bean dip with cotija cheese on the table in lieu of the standard chips and salsa. Just glorious). A little while later the food arrives, and we all start devouring it. There are three large-ass quesadillas on the table, I was bummed we didn’t get the sampler, but promptly forgot about it. After a few minutes, the waiter stops by to see what we need. I order another drink a few people ask for water.

After we’ve finished off the food, someone asks about the sampler platter we had talked about. It’s only then that anyone realizes the order was a little mixed up. So, when the waiter shows up with the check, Cindy begins the interrogation.
“Did you forget something, maybe?” The waiter looks confused and terrified.
I try to break up the silence that’s descended, “Not like we could eat anything else, right? No need to be rude.”’
Cindy continued in her mocking tone, “Well, he needs to learn sometime. What did you forget?” And keeps looking at him, waiting for the answer. I finally just tell him, “I think we ordered the sampler platter, but we weren’t charged for it, so no big deal.”
But, Cindy’s not done yet, “First you forgot my drink, and then you couldn’t even get the order right. What's the problem? Do you not understand simple orders?” There’s a definite undertone of racism that leaves me completely abhorred.

I’m mortified. I’ve never been so horrified at someone’s behavior at a restaurant. I grab the check, do some quick math throw down $20, Sarah does the same and we go to the bathroom to fume at how absolutely out-of-line Cindy’s behavior was.

When we got back to the table, Cindy incredulously tells us how the manager brought the check back to double-check the amount of cash that had been left. The reason? For a $68.75 tab, we only gave them $70. It was then I started doing some math:
I left $20
Sarah left $20
Nancy left $20
Donna (who doesn’t drink) left 10.
It was Joanna’s birthday, so the idea was to everyone leave enough to cover Joanna too. When the check was sent back, Rita threw in some cash too (she had been waved off because someone didn’t count properly).

Cindy was furious that they had the audacity to bring the check back. I tried to defend the manager saying, “I think he was double-checking in order to give us the opportunity to NOT stiff them on the tip. And frankly, I’d rather he did that than let me leave them without a tip.” Cindy kept complaining about the nerve, the audacity, blah blah blah.
Sarah and I were so embarrassed, we found the waiter and gave him another $20 for dealing with that horrible woman.
So, after all her bitching, and unacceptable behavior, she didn't put down a dime. So, we paid for her to eat, drink and be a terrible person. Just amazing. If you don't pay, you don't get to complain. Ever.

I understand how frustrating it is to get your order mixed up. Hell, not a month goes by without a restaurant either completely forgetting my food, or just fucking it up beyond edibility. But, you know, I believe in that old adage, “Don’t piss off the people who deal with your food.” Also, I’ve worked food. Taking orders from 7 people, who all insist on talking at once is impossible. It doesn’t mean you just take what you’re given. Send the food back, absolutely. Just do so with some empathy and kindness. That’s a human, right there.

If anyone ever spoke to me the way Cindy spoke to that waiter, I’d have thrown him or her out of the restaurant. That shit doesn’t fly with me. Cindy occasionally rubs me the wrong way, but I’ve never been openly ashamed to be seen with her.

I can at least comfort myself a little that I spoke up after her little shame-outburst. I told her outright that she was rude, and it was completely unnecessary. Not that it did any good, but at least I didn’t let her behavior go without a challenge.

Few things piss me off more than people who mistreat restaurant staff. How much of an asshat do you have to be to ridicule a waiter? The answer: A pretty fucking huge ass hat.

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