Wednesday, March 22, 2006 by Ospite.

We get a phone call. One of our regular customers is celebrating his son's 21st birthday and would like to pop in with 9 people. Normally we don't cater to parties, but this was a special circumstance, so I readied the table. The party arrived and informed us (with an apology) that the number jumped to 11. This now means I need 3 tables thrown together for such a number and I have only two available. The table next to the party's section is a 20-something couple on a date.

I discuss the situation with their waiter, inquiring as to their location on the date timeline and when they might be leaving.

"5 minutes...tops."

No problem. I approach the regular and let him know the present situation and that there will be a brief wait while the couple leaves and we finish preparing the festivity proximity.

"No problem at all, sir. I figured we might be throwing a stick in your spokes when we dragged the other two along. We'll wait off to the side."

I love this man.

A minute passes. And another minute. And another minute passes. And still another minute passes. And a new minute passes which felt like an hour but was, in fact only, a minute. ... A minute passes.

The couple shows no sign of leaving. I inquire again.

"Well, he decided to get his food boxed up and her dessert to go."

"OK. See if you can expedite them in any way possible."

I wander to the front, go about my duties and then seat another table near said couple. They are now officially arguing. Slightly raised voices that can be heard a couple tables away. Lovely.

M. "That's not at all what I said, nor how I said it!"
F. "The hell it's not!"
M. "You're implying that I am now a jack ass?"
F. "That's exactly what I'm saying!"

I walk directly behind the woman and attempt to make eyecontact with the man. He is clearly ignoring me. So I meander back to the awaiting party where I inform them that the couple has their check. They simply need to pay and leave. No ripples, all glassy smooth.

I hear the aformentioned woman from across the restaurant.

F. "The hell with this!"

I work my way to their section.

F. "All you ever do anymore is yell at me, and swear at me, and be horribly sarcastic."
M. (with ridiculous amounts of slimy sarcastic tone) "Sure! Yeah! That's me! Shit fuck shit fuck shit!"

The woman bursts into tears...

Now, I'm going through my possible responses in my head and also trying to figure out what would make a couple go out on a date and errupt into a shouting match in the middle of my restaurant. One would think privacy would be ideal. Apparently my thoughts are way off.

I stepped directly behind the sobbing woman so she couldn't see me. The man made the mistake of looking up. I gave him my best "Shut up or get out" look. He actually flinched. I held eye contact for about 5 seconds before he turned too red to focus and dropped his head. I then retrieved his bill from the table, along with credit card and handed it to his server. It was the clearest motion to accompany the "get out" portion of the stare. I returned about 5 minutes later to find her head buried in her hands and a stupid sheepish grin on his face as he was petting her head. Stepping passed them, I made a loud comment to the waiter that he'd be receiving his 11-top party as soon as table 31 was available and then immediately shot the man another look. His last warning to take her out of here or I'm getting involved in their relationship personally.

The couple stood up and retrieved their coats. As they were exiting, I went to the regular.

"I greatly apologize for both the wait and the scene."

"Are you kidding? I'm glad I don't have your job and have to deal with retarded boyfriends on a nightly basis."

I couldn't help but chuckle. Now, every time I hear the word "sarcastic" there will be a string of 5 four-letter words screaming through my mind.


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At your service, Ospite

I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the people business. I use every opportunity to people watch, because to me, even the most mundane is fascinating.

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