Cold fries are always vexing to me; bad service or God saying “Get it together kid, you don’t need these…” Then I think to myself, Am I more agnostic or more impatient? I don’t really think God gives a shit about me eating french fries, right? Plus I’m not religious. Secular, not religious, and trained to some degree in the workings of the brain. Ah, got it. My subconscious is calling me fat.
God wouldn’t be telling me what to eat or not eat anyway. Were he to exist, and were he to have a role in the presentation of these shitty, cold french fries. It would put to me as a test, right? You decide, son. Not dictate what I should do. God lets me ruin things on my own then lays down the consequences. That’s what I’ve heard.
So I’m anxious, but that’s not new. Why now? Worried about boarding late? Worried about heart attack? Hate this. Fries remain untouched: three way tie between god, my subconscious and arteries. Shitty service wins. Tip follows. I have a whole other rap on why bad service should be tipped but I’ll get into that another time.
That was yesterday, and now I’m eating by myself at a restaurant in DC – Osteria Sette. So far I am unimpressed, mostly due to their shitty service and the fact that they couldn’t handle a flash rain storm (I was seated outside). But whatever. I’m not in a hurry and my feathers aren’t going to get ruffled from having a few extra minutes to myself. Then again I am thinking about having bad service twice in a 24 hour period. The food isn’t awful, but it isn’t good either. The risotto tastes much better once I add salt and olive oil and serve it up on the browned pizza crust bread they brought me. Not what they had planned I’m sure.
Some girl at the bar is making uncomfortable eye contact with me. I’m acting like I don’t notice. She appears to be eating by herself too. Funny. Part of me is reminded of a short story I wrote about bar meet-ups nearly 15 years ago. That was my first dealings in burying some of my real-life experiences in fiction. A guy just came back from the bathroom and I realize she’s not eating alone. The eye contact is now 50 times more uncomfortable.
The waitress misinterprets my empty plate as me liking their food, not me being simply hungry and too lazy to go get better food someplace else. The truth is that I am the one that made their food edible and I probably should have just ordered an olive oil, salt and risotto pizza to begin with. She just walked by and grabbed my plate. Didn’t ask me if I was done, didn’t ask me anything. She’ll get a tip, but she’ll also get a bit more of me than she’s expecting. The explanation now:
I don’t ever tip less or not tip at all because someone is an awful server. My reasoning is that starving them will probably only lead to them hating customers even more and to more bad service. I guess I am paying it forward for the next guy to an extent. Now, that said, I don’t just swallow the bitter pill either. My tip for bad service comes with an explanation of my reasoning. Tonight that meant I handed her the signed receipt indicating my 20% gratuity after I explained that she was awful, but that I wanted her to be better, and so I was tipping her both money and a reminder. Yes, I felt better and she was wildly unimpressed.
Changed scenery. Now I’m in a pub on the way back to my hotel drinking a New Hampshire IPA. It’s a Tuesday night so the place is predictably quiet. As such, I am privy to a conversation between the bartender and some random customer two bar stools to my left. Occasionally they will break so the bartender can deal with customers, but for the most part the entire exchange is about their sexual exploits with various bartenders and servers in the area. The man is a regular, but he doesn’t live here. Just like me, I think. He might be a little older, but he has a routine down and knows all the attractive servers within a five block radius. So does the bartender and the two of them are talking – quite graphically – about their mutual experiences, which girls are good for which activities and the histrionic shortcomings of them all. It really is an unbelievable conversation. This is why women hate men.
And there is 24 hours inside my head.