THE SONIC BOOMER
On the weekends, Mark and I like to tool around small towns, exploring. We generally stop for lunch at a chain restaurant, simply because my stomach likes to know what to expect. However, sometimes we will try the fare at some local mom-and-pop eatery in an effort to support the local economy.
Last weekend, Mark pulled into an “Irish pub.” It was not a good experience.
In the first place, there was no bar. I wasn’t intending to order alcohol, but calling the place an Irish pub seemed a bit of a misnomer. In the second place, a man in a ratty T-shirt shouted at us to, “Sit down! Wherever!” Already unhappy, I turned to go, but he positioned himself in front of the door, repeating, “Sit down!”
Assuming my hunger was surely magnifying this event, I chose a seat at a table with a TV overhead so Mark could watch his game. The moment we sat down, the waitress left. Her name was Surly. Could’ve been Shirley, but Surly is more correct.
Fifteen minutes later, reeking of cigarette smoke, she was back. Mark ordered a Coke, but I was in the (only) bathroom, washing my hands. I had started to feel dirty.
When I got back, I knew she was upset, because she demanded, “Well what do you want to drink?” When I asked what she had, she rolled her eyes and said, “Coke products!” I tried to remember exactly what the Coca-Cola Corporation offers and narrow it down to the three products she might have, and ended up meekly asking for a Sprite. I didn’t want to make her day any worse than I already had.
When she returned, we ordered club sandwiches and were careful to get the fries and not ask for any exotic substitutions like onion rings. Forty-five minutes later, she was back. She clattered the plates down, turned her back to us and hollered over her shoulder, “You two need anything?” Believe me, we didn’t.
“Maybe her last job was in a prison cafeteria,” I whispered to Mark.
“They don’t get nice waitresses like we do,” he whispered back.
We settled in to eat, Mark with one eye on the game, and were surprised to hear Surly plop down loudly into one of the three remaining booths. A friend showed up and Surly started to complain about how she hated the place, and now they were getting new owners, she’d probably have to train new servers (please, no!)… and who did they think they were, asking her to do that?
Just as Mark’s team was heading for a touchdown, she abruptly switched the
game over to a Julie Andrews movie. I think she did it on purpose. Yet, Julie Andrews is a good actress, so Mark and I started to get interested in the movie. Surly must have noticed this, because — bam! — the TV switched to “Family Feud.”
We were nearly done with our sandwiches when she yelled at Mark’s back from her booth, “Hey! You want another Coke?” He shook his head. I was out of Sprite, but too bad.
When “Family Feud” ended, she waddled over with the check and stood there, looming over Mark and watching his every pen stroke as he signed the check. He knew he’d better give her a tip because. If he didn’t, there was a good chance she’d haul off and pop him one.
We went outside and he asked, “Intimidating enough for you?”
I nodded. And here’s some news — it’s back to national restaurant chains for me.