A quick note: Here’s a bonus post to tide you over, my loyal readers and subscribers, until Part Two of my three part series arrives. My multi-part series recalls my time working on an oil rig in the North Sea. Part Two will be posted January 17, 2018. Enjoy.
Saturday With My Wife
Most every Saturday begins with the same basic decision – should my wife and I go out for breakfast, brunch, or a late lunch?
The answer to this seemingly simple question depends on several factors: 1) what time my wife and I finally get out of bed, 2) how much time the latest sleeper needs to get ready to hop in the car, 3) what other meals will we be having later on in the day, and 4) where do we want to go to eat.
Today, we were both ready to go by 10:30 am. I specifically voiced my preferred meal choice, “I want breakfast!” It’s good to voice an opinion from time to time. After a brief discussion and eventual concurrence with my choice of meals, my wife and I traveled to one of our favorite breakfast spots. Since it was a favorite spot, we decided on our breakfast choices, even before we entered the restaurant. Today, the breakfast menu would be superfluous.
This is the point in the story when the day took an unexpected turn.
My wife ordered her usual breakfast without ever really considering the other options available to her if she had consulted the breakfast menu. When it was my time to place my order, I hesitated. My usual breakfast sounded good in the abstract, but now, with the waitress standing inches from me, I quickly glanced once more at the menu. From deep within the chores to which my active mind was attending, my breakfast order surfaced.
I ordered something new from the menu.
My next words to the waitress must have sounded like some far off obscure language to her. I could see she was already writing down my order from memory. Then she heard my order. Our waitress turned pale and quite perceptibly, rocked back on her heels. She did not expect one of her regular customers to willy-nilly change his usual breakfast order. She was stunned and she asked me if I was sure of my order. Casually I said, “Life without whimsy and serendipity is hardly worth living.” I don’t think she grasped what I had said. She turned and hurried towards the kitchen where I assumed she entered our orders.
It turns out she was so obviously unnerved by the unexpected change in my order that in communicating my wife’s order to the short order cook, my wife’s selection of a dry biscuit with her breakfast came to the table covered in sausage gravy. For some inexplicable reason, my wife’s aversion to sausage gravy is pathologic. Now it was her turn to become pale and unstable as she twisted in her seat, following a similar reaction I had recently observed in our waitress’ demeanor.
The plate that held my wife’s breakfast was immediately removed and after a brief absence, a new plate of food was delivered to my wife, with biscuits sans sausage gravy. Then my breakfast was served. Everything I had ordered was just as it should have been, just like the photo in the menu advertised.
My new breakfast selection was even better than I had convinced myself it would be. I did not let on the degree of happiness and contentment I felt. It would have been insensitive of me to acknowledge what a great breakfast I was having, while at the same time my wife was forced to remember how the sausage gravy poured over her biscuits had unnerved her. No enlightened or sensitive spouse would ever cross that boundary of careless and wreckless thought.
We finished our meal. The check arrived. Since we are regular customers, I knew our breakfast bill would be about $25.00 before the tip. The total of the bill this morning was, however, $34.95 before the tip. When I finally got the attention of our waitress, she discovered she had charged my wife twice for her breakfast – once for the original order, complete with sausage gravy and biscuits, and then again the same order, but minus the sausage gravy.
Sometimes one has to make a stand.
As loyal repeat customers, I politely but firmly asked for an adjustment to the bill due to the mistake in my wife’s breakfast order. I did not in any way assign blame for the inaccuracy of the order. You see, if I blamed my wife, the rest of the day would have been consumed by thawing the coolness arising from the distance that had come between us. If I blamed the waitress, God knows what she might do to our orders the next time we came in for breakfast, brunch or a late lunch. I would have been afraid to order eggs benedict for fear of what might replace the hollandaise sauce.
I simply asked if there would be any way that the second charge for my wife’s breakfast might be rescinded. The waitress disappeared into the kitchen. We heard a dish crash to the floor or perhaps against a kitchen wall. The waitress returned with a corrected bill closer to the $25.00 I was expecting.
As I paid the bill at the cashier’s desk she asked me two questions: 1) how was everything and 2) did I want to include a tip? Here is an insight into the shallowness of my character. Wanting to return to this restaurant in the future, I hesitated before I answered the cashier’s questions.
“Yes, everything was fine as usual, great service, great food, great value and yes, I would like to leave not just my usual 20% tip but the suggested 22% that’s printed on the bill.” My wife looked at me as if I had just told the greatest lie the world had ever known. She turned and left the restaurant, leaving me there alone with my ever growing sense of shame for playing fast and loose with the truth.
It really doesn’t matter how the rest of the day turned out, does it? This whole incident would never have happened if I had slept just a bit later and we ended up having a late lunch. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin – early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and a fool if he asks his wife, “honey, what’s for dinner?”
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