Saturday, May 29, 2010


After dragging my husband to a movie that no male of any species should have to endure, we went out to dinner. Mexican Food. We sat at our table, talking about the moral vaccuum that is our American culture and absentmindedly eating a whole basket of tortilla chips and salsa. Suddenly our adorable waiter (he was really small of stature and flustered by the busyness of the restaurant) appeared at our table and said: "I'm sorry it's taking so long for your food. We are really backed up in the kitchen. I promise it will be out soon". Honestly, I hadn't even noticed (because I was busy talking with the handsomest man in the world and that is way more interesting than a tamale!). In actuality, it was about 20-30 minutes between the time we ordered and when the food arrived. Normally, by the time you have ordered, handed the menu back to the waiter, and have reached for the next tortilla chip, your food shows up, so that night was abnormally slow...but we didn't really mind. The people behind us, however, did mind. While we were eating, we heard a lady complaining to the sweet, little waiter-man about how ridiculous it was that she had to wait, because she had things she needed to do. Later, another couple behind us asked to speak to a manager, who mistakenly showed up at our table instead. We told him that we were fine, but he better brace himself for attack at the next table. Poor kid looked like he was about to faint.

The man who asked to see the manager proceeded to loudly and rudely eviscerate the manager, claiming that he was paying for "food and ambiance" (not sure how much ambiance you expect to get with an $8 burrito, but it made us laugh). He said a bunch of other rude, inappropriate, loud things that made him look like an imbecile and proceeded to embarrass his wife (and everyone within a mile radius). He proclaimed that he was so upset by the experience that he didn't think he'd even be able to eat his food at this point (when the food eventually arrived, he somehow managed to move past his pain).

Now here is my main problem with this situation: you don't treat people like they are dirt beneath your feet, no matter how hungry you are. I am not opposed to lodging a complaint when necessary. In fact, I recently called the Fazoli's complaint department after waiting 20 minutes at the drive thru for some tortellini...but I didn't make the drive thru attendant feel like he was sub-human.

Another issue this situation raises for me deals with our culture: We expect everything instantly. We can't wait for anything, and worse, don't feel like we should have to wait for anything. Are we really so important that the whole world needs to revolve around us and our needs? Sometimes kitchens get backed up and that is just life. Waiting 20 minutes for your food to show up is not going to kill you. I worked at a McDonald's one summer in a wealthy suburb of Detroit where my dad lived at the time. Sometimes the grill would get backed up, especially later at night when we had less people scheduled and a little league team would show up. When there are 30 people in line, you aren't going to get your order in 10 seconds. That is just life. People take out their frustrations on the front person, because the grill people (who are working hard to get all the orders out) are hidden...and it seems that all the frustrations of a person's existence come to the surface when she is forced to wait and is no longer in control of a situation. I think you can tell a lot about a person's character by the way they wait, but that's a whole other blog.

There are entire cultures who consider a meal to be an experience...places where people spend time talking and connecting for an hour or two before they even order off a menu. As Americans, we want to run in and out and never be inconvenienced. The irate, complaining man at the restaurant was there with his wife. They sat in uncomfortable silence while waiting for their food. His dissatisfaction at waiting said a lot more to me about him than it did about the restaurant staff. Is it so hard to talk to your wife for 20 minutes and enjoy it? If so, that's the real tragedy of the night, not the delay of tacos. I am blessed to have a husband who, half-way through our meal, said to me, "Why don't you come sit next to me? You are too far away!" He was probably just trying to get on my good side (it worked!) or attribute it to the fact we've only been married a year and a half. I hope, though, that we will still have something to talk about after we've been married for 20 years. I dread the day when having to sit across from my spouse, waiting for food, becomes drudgery.

The moral reminder to me from this experience: A little waiting every now and then isn't going to kill find a way to enjoy what is happening, rather than complaing and making everyone around you miserable.


paul said...

To whom it may concern

This blog post was just too darn long and it took way to long for me to read it. In the future, I would ask that you keep your blog posts to no more than 350 words and please do not use words longer than 6 characters. I also had to wait 4 days since your last post. That is way too long. I expect posts daily. In fact, I want you to treat this blog like a Twitter account. If you do not rectify this situation, you can be assured that I will no longer frequent this establishment. Get with it.

Tina Dietsch Fox said...

LOVE it, Paul!!! Will comply!! :-)

Dimpled Dempseys... said...

Your Paul friend is funny.

I AGREEEEEE with YOOOUUUU, sister! How a person waits DOES say quite a bit about their character....AND how much they're enjoying their company. We went to dinner the other a Mexican restaurant....with another couple and their son and never realized we had waited 45 minutes to get our food.

Hey, were your ears burning tonight? We had dinner with some OTHER friends tonight (yeah, we're popular now) and the wife just happened to be a Wheaton graduate! We saw your cute little picture in her yearbook and everything. I think she was a year ahead of you. Her name is Anita Walz. I forgot to ask her maiden name. Oops.

SOOOO glad you're blogging again! I had been feeling a little lonely here in the blogosphere.

amy said...

like ;-)