I recently had the privilege of traveling trans-Atlantic aboard the Queen Mary 2. The ship is beautiful, the service excellent, and certain standards maintained (you were expected to dress nicely for dinner in the dining room, for instance). You might think (hope?) that this might encourage people to be on their best behaviour, but alas, that’s not always the case.
For dinner, I was seated at a large table with five fellow passengers: four men and one very elegant lady I’ll call A. For the most part, everyone was very warm and friendly, but one of the men, let’s call him M, was a little odd. It was little things, mostly: the first night on board, when I arrived at the table, he refused to introduce himself, as the others had. In fact, he never said one word to me the entire seven-day trip. He also didn’t wait for everyone at the table to be served before starting to eat, which I’d always been taught was rather rude. But whatever, I shrugged it off and chatted with the others, who were all lovely people.
A few nights into the voyage, we had a formal dinner. The men wore suits, and the ladies were all in beautiful evening wear. The meal was also quite elaborate and served with much ceremony. When the main courses came out, a waiter placed M’s dish in front of him, and M immediately asked the waiter for more bread. The waiter hurried off to go fetch the bread basket, as another waiter stepped forward to offer M sauce for his meat. M curtly refused it and once again demanded bread. That waiter, who knew someone else had gone to get it, nodded and moved on to the next person. A third waiter offered M freshly cracked pepper for his meal (none of this was unusual–the waiters tended to swarm the table to get everyone their meals and accompaniments quickly and efficiently).
At this point, M completely lost it.
“No, I don’t want horseradish, I don’t want pepper, I want bread!” he screamed at the hapless pepper-waiter. “Bread! BREAD! BREADBREADBREADBREADBREAD!” And he hammered his fist against the table like a three-year-old, sending everyone’s plates and cutlery clattering.
We were all in shock. Other tables turned to glare at this cretin, who’d disturbed the peace of the restaurant. The other gentlemen at our table looked down at their plates in embarrassment. My jaw dropped (and I’m not the jaw-dropping sort) and A and I exchanged aghast “can you believe this?” looks. The bread arrived — and mind, he’d had to wait maybe 30 seconds for this bread, no more — and M was appeased. He went on with his meal as if nothing had happened. After the meal was over and M had strolled out, A apologized to one of our waiters for his behavior. M certainly wasn’t going to say he was sorry — he didn’t even seem to realize he’d behaved badly.
After that, the rest of us kept our distance from him, though I couldn’t help but notice (and be amused) that the waiters were constantly coming over and offering his bread for the rest of the voyage. 1101-12
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