A few years ago I booked a table at a local restaurant for my partner’s birthday. We hadn’t been there before, but I had heard very good things about it. It also appealed to me because there were lots of dishes to choose from- I live in a very pretty seaside town that is renowned for its fish and seafood so most of the local restaurants rely on it quite heavily, with only a few non-fishy things available- and neither of us like fish!
I digress. Anyway, I heard the evening we’d booked that there was a powercut along the seafront so I called the restaurant to check if they were open. The manager told me that they weren’t taking business off the street but they were honouring bookings, however we should expect a limited menu. We decided to go anyway. and saw it as a bit of an adventure.
We got to the restaurant to find it bathed in candlelight- rather romantic actually. There were five tables occupied including us. We British are supposedly famous for our make-do-and-mend spirit, and it was displayed that night. All the chef had were gas burners but he still managed to produce some wonderful food- perfectly done steak, pigeon breast, excellent vegetables, and apparently the fish was done to a turn. Everyone got complimentary drinks, and the owner circulated, making jokes and relaxing us all. The odd circumstances got everyone talking, and we all agreed that it was certainly a memorable night!
Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves except for one man who was dining with his wife. He had been told about the reduced menu, but it didn’t stop him complaining and moaning all night- first to his wife, and later to everyone within earshot. It turned out he wanted the crusted lamb, which was not available as it was a slow oven cooked dish, and the oven was electric, so no go. The waitress offered to give him an alternative main course for half price, but that didn’t help matters. The level of his voice rose and rose, choked with outrage that he couldn’t have what he wanted. He was absolutely vile to her- no bad language, but he really picked her apart- everything from her hair and clothes to the way she was standing, even speculating about her morals- and clearly enjoyed her distress. You would have thought she’d offered him poison and a kick up the arse the way he went on. This was a well dressed middle class man, who had apparently got to the age of fifty or so still believing that he should never be denied anything. I felt so sorry for his wife as she was obviously used to this behaviour- at first she was grabbing at his sleeve and telling him not to make a fuss, but gave up when he started shouting and just stared at her plate. I would gladly have contributed to a whip-round for divorce proceedings. He stomped off eventually, having availed himself amply of the complimentary wine, refusing to pay the bill. We all applauded as he left. 0801-12
Note to the waitress: Never, ever show distress to a rude boor. They win, you lose, at least temporarily. Firm up the polite spine and cheerfully ignore the insults.