Wednesday, July 12, 2006 by Ospite.

Stuck at the door. Yet another hostess pulls a no-call, no-show so I get shoved to the door alone for the evening. It seems our host staff is dropping like flies.

Early evening a tiny man walks in holding the hand of his son who I presume to be around 8 years old. I give the father the quick read and then the son. Father was about 40-45, high cut khakis, plain brown shoes, and a cream oxford shirt. His hair was askew and he held that prominent professor look. The son was clearly tentative about entering and seemed completely nervous about the prospect of eating out. He had the appearance of a boy who has never seen the Sun. His skin was a remarkably pale, dark circles around his eyes, as if he'd emerged from a cave. His navy blue polo was tucked into his shorts and as he gripped his father's hand with his left, his right held tightly to a Purell hand sanitizer that was in a special holster, strapped to his belt. This was going to be interesting.

Three table tries before I found one suitable for the boy who was quite particular about the position in the restaurant. Not too close to the kitchen. Not too close to the bathroom. Not too close to the front door, but not in the middle of the restaurant.

Finally sat, I ran through my small speech and then let them be. I watched from my post as the boy used the sanitizer on his silverware, his hands, and then replaced it to it's holster. Part of me wondered why he ever left the house, and part of me wondered where you get a Purell holster. He proceeded to rearrange the silverware exactly to his liking...twice. His father and he never spoke a word until after the waitress had taken their orders.

To my surprise, they sent their food back only once because it was not flawless. Actually, because there was a small sauce splatter on the rim. Sadly, the kitchen probably stirred the pasts was a spoon, wiped the rim and sent it back as a new meal. Either way, the kid ate it.

How does someone so young face the world so paranoid? I pondered that he could have a sickness that has weakened his immune system, but if that were the case, I would think his parents would then cook for him at home, not taking him out. The constant rearranging of his chair and things on the table led me to believe in a germaphobic OCD. Whatever the case, the father tipped generously, obviously clued into his son's behavior as slightly abnormal. And to be totally frank, they were surprisingly pleasant people with whom to converse. Even the seemingly weird can be a pleasant switch from the normal demands of high-strung wannabe Italians.


Blogger Rapax said...

Congrats! You have encountered a clone of Adrian Monk.

7:04 AM  
Blogger av8r said...

I was thinking this kid might have a high-functioning form of autism. He's able to function in society, but only within strict confines. Nonetheless, bravo for making his experience "normal."

9:19 AM  
Blogger caramaena said...

av8r, I was kinda thinking along similar lines. I'm glad the parent(s) make the effort to do 'normal' things.

6:47 PM  
Blogger mac2612 said...

Do you guys get fired for a single NCNS? Where I work we get 2 before we get "terminated"

5:56 PM  
Blogger ROCBlogster said...

We get a few. It depends on the person and the excuse I suppose. My managers are wusses.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous chris in virginia said...

Thanks for being so nice about the boy. My daughter has Aspergers Syndrome. She also suffers from anxiety and depression so she is one of those pale children because she is afraid to go outside. It is considered a high functioning form of autism and going out to eat with her is sometimes (I am ashamed to say) an embarrassing experience. She has no sense of public boundries or approprate conversations. Little to no eye contact and she flinches when you try to touch to her.
So anyway my sob story aside. From someone who is in a similar position of the father in your story THANKS! It is always helpful when someone makes an effort to be nice and make everything seem "normal". I am sure you made their day.

12:18 PM  

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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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