RUABelle and I decided not to cook last night and to visit our favorite restaurant in Sewanee instead. The place was packed in a cozy and clamorous sort of way, but we had made reservations on the drive up the mountain that morning, so we got seated within a few minutes.
As soon as we sat down, we knew we were in trouble. Our teenaged server was deep in the weeds and was in desperate need of a Poulan or some assistance to catch up. We noticed that he was also waiting on a birthday party of about sixteen people who looked really high-maintenance. He was constantly rushing back and forth, carrying one cup of coffee or one glass of wine on every trip. They definitely looked like separate check people. Bad planning + bad execution + difficult patrons = waiter hell.
But we were patient and ordered a couple of glasses of wine while we waited and watched the train wreck from across the room. By the time we got our wine, the vintage had actually changed, so I guess they were now worth more. An hour into our dining experience, the poor young man finally came by between our salad and the main course to see if we wanted another glass of wine. I think the fact that we had turned our glasses upside down on the table thirty minutes ago might have been a hint.
He approached the table with two bowls of soup. “I’m sorry about the long wait. It’ll be a while, so I arranged to get you all a couple of free bowls of soup.”
Err, thanks. Do we get some free shoes and a haircut with that? If we’d wanted soup, we would have ordered it instead of salads. It sounded nasty when he described it, and it lived up to our expectations. Carrot and ginger soup. Maybe it sounds interesting to you, but it looked, felt and tasted like it should have come in a Gerbers jar.
“Would you like another glass of wine?” he inquired timidly. Remember, we’ve been nothing but smiles up to this point, so he knew on his own how bad this experience was going.
“She’s having the penne with lobster. Do you have a wine pairing to suggest with that?”
“Ummm…sure,” he replied as his eyeballs rolled up into the top of his head while he scanned his internal chalkboard on the inside of his forehead for some sort of notes his manager had probably given him during his training 90 minutes ago.
I tried to be helpful and limit the options. “We probably just want to look at something by the glass since I’m having the steak and will stick with this carbernet. It’s really good, by the way.”
“Yeah, good. Ummm…the penney[sic]and the lobster…hmmmmm.” He was starting to drip sweat on the table.
“Maybe something white?”
“Actually sir, I’m underage so I don’t know much about drinking.”
We weren’t buying it. This was Sewanee-one of the top party schools in the country. They actually sell t-shirts emblazoned with, “The University of the South-All You Can Drink. $30,000/year Cover Charge.”
“Aw, c’mon. It’s no big deal. If you were having the penne, what would you want to drink with it.”
“Ummmmm…ummmmmmmm…I don’t know. A Jager-bomb?”
A noble idea, but RUABelle had the sauvignon blanc instead.
You really gotta work to find humor in some situations.