I don't like unpleasantries. In the dog world, I would be like Sweet, Sweet Juno, who slinks away to hide at the first hint of conflict. I couldn't do that at lunch on Wednesday, because... well... BUFFET!
My favorite gambling aunt had called last week to set up a lunch date. I asked if she would mind if Hick came along. Just to eat, not for the whole gossip session. He wanted to ask her opinion on his upcoming selection of an insurance supplement plan, now that he is almost old enough to boot off my outrageously expensive premiums. Of course she agreed. Auntie is not a Hick-ist.
The restaurant we'll call Italian Pie Shack to save it future embarrassment. It's a common chain, not nearly as tasty as it was years ago. I arrived first, and waited on the parking lot for my companions. I saw Auntie pull into the handicap spot, and walked over to greet her. A family of three darted through the door ahead of us, so we were left standing in the heat until we could fit inside. Once the waitress took the family to their table, we stepped in. Auntie kept on walking!
"Uh. Wait. It says so right there on that podium! Wait to Be Seated."
"Ahh... Sissy is already here. See? There she is. I asked her to join us."
Let the record show that I have never met Auntie's Sissy, and I don't mind one whit that she was included. I just didn't want to break the seating rule. Sissy already had a glass of Sprite on the table. We made her move over one table, where two were jammed together, because it was going to be crowded with the four of us at a single. I called Hick, who was a few blocks away, and told him to come on in, that he'd see us from the door.
When the waitress showed up, she said, "Oh. I didn't know you were here." Which I took to be a passive-aggressive reference to us walking in without waiting to be seated. But I said nothing, because we DID violate the Italian Pie Shack Seating Law. To make it clear from the get-go, I said, "This will be on separate checks." Hick was leaving early, and Auntie and I always pay our own way, and Sissy was nodding at me as I glanced her way with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh. Well. I'll need to go get my order pad."
Seriously. What kind of waitress shows up to take an order without an order pad? A super brainiac, maybe, but she was not it. Auntie volunteered that we were all having the buffet, so Hatey Waity turned on her heel and said she wouldn't need that pad. She took our request for two Diet Cokes, and one unsweet tea. Sissy asked for extra napkins, and Auntie asked for Hick to get some silverware, as his place setting had none. Hatey Waity rolled her eyes and sighed.
Off we went to the buffet. Precariously. Because the tile floor was slick with either mop-water or, more likely, grease. I could hardly stand up. My legs were splaying like a newborn colt's. I wished I had four. I grabbed a plate and glided over to the salad bar like a speed skater warming up. I took some white-noodle stuff, and limp lettuce, with mushrooms, red onions, cheese, and ranch dressing. Plus two short breadsticks with sauce, and a short cinnastick without icing. The pickin's were slim. The pizza was cut into tiny slices the size of a bookmark. Hick took four of each kind he wanted. He said four made one regular slice.
I was the last one back to the table. Our drinks had arrived, and I saw that Hick was unrolling his silverware. "Oh, did she bring you some utensils?"
"No. He got them off another table," said Auntie.
Hatey Waity showed up, and demanded to know: "Did someone here order a pizza?"
I shook my head. No. Not that I knew. Hick shook his head. Auntie said no. Then Sissy said, "Well, I did."
Hatey Waity said, with a condescending tone reserved for the old and feeble, "We don't do that here."
Sissy nodded. "Oh, okay, that's fine."
Hatey Waity again emphasized, "We don't make pizzas on request."
Auntie, to smooth things over and make her Sissy feel less ridiculed, said, "Oh, they make them over at CiCi's."
Hatey Waity looked at Auntie and said, "This isn't CiCi's." Like Auntie was senile or something.
Auntie got that teachery edge in her voice, and said, looking Hatey Waity right in the eye, "I didn't say it WAS."
Heh, heh. Good for Auntie, but I wanted to sink through the floor. Just because we're old, and didn't follow the rules, doesn't mean that Hatey Waity can lord it over on us like we already have four feet in the mass grave.
"Huh! I've never seen a waitress with such an attitude. I guess she doesn't want a tip!" Auntie does not suffer fools lavishly.
Every now and then, Hatey Waity showed up to take away plates from Sissy and Auntie. Mutely. She didn't take Hick's, and I was still eating off mine. Hick was needing a soda refill, but Hatey Waity ran away before he could ask. He got as far as lifting his empty glass at her, which she did not acknowledge. After three attempts, Hick got up and stormed off. He returned shortly with a full glass.
"I got it myself."
"You're not supposed to do that! It's the waitress station! They bring a new glass."
"I don't care. She wasn't getting it, so I did!"
Shortly after that, Hatey Waity came by and took a plate from Auntie, and Sissy asked for a refill. "Oh, you want some more water?"
"No. I have Sprite. Which you brought me the first time."
Hatey Waity brought back a Sprite, and our bills. "Here. They're all the same. It doesn't matter." She set them down in front of Hick, and left.
I picked them up and passed them out at random. Auntie started saying, "We should all get the 10 % senior discount. Be sure to tell them at the register." Well. My bill was $8.69, and I was not going to quibble over 87 cents. That won't even buy me a 44 oz Diet Coke.
As we were talking, Hatey Waity showed up, carrying two dark sodas, waving them in front of Hick. "I thought you might need a refill. Now which was it, Dr. Pepper or Root Beer?"
"I didn't have either of those."
"Oh. Are you sure? I just couldn't remember which one."
"I'm sure. I had Diet Coke. I don't want those."
Hatey Waity stood there for a minute. Expecting Hick to compliment her, I suppose. Like when a toddler picks up some tiny piece of trash off the ground, and hands it to Mom or Grandma, and they say, "THANK YOU!" about twenty times, like the kid just split the atom, and credited them in his Nobel Prize speech. All Hatey Waity got from Hick was a stare. She finally took her two dark sodas and left.
"There's somebody who decided they want a tip, now that the bill is here," said Auntie.
I must confess that I left two dollars on the table. Hick left one. Sissy and Auntie didn't have any cash on the table that I saw as I was standing up to go pay. I don't think Hatey Waity deserved much of a tip, but she hadn't done anything noticeable to ME. Besides, what goes around comes around. It didn't kill me to leave a 23 % tip. If all she got was from me and Hick, that's 9 % from our table. I hope Hatey Waity sees it as a learning experience.
We'll never know, because I'm not planning to have lunch there again for quite a while.
I guess Hatey Waity really DID need her order pad.