I Love The Restaurant’s Food, But The Little Things Annoy Me


My husband Mark took me out to dinner last Friday at a restaurant where I order the New York strip every single time because the New York strip is fabulous. Every. Single. Time.

The restaurant is located in a podunk town populated by podunk people who absolutely love this podunk restaurant. And I’m not saying I’m not podunk. I can podunk as well as the next person. I don’t dress up when I go there. I don’t expect to be seated for half an hour. I don’t expect a lot, except, of course, for the steak, which, as I said before, is fabulous.

Other than the steak, the things that irritate me about this restaurant are numerous.

They have replaced their perfectly normal yellow incandescent lightbulbs with LED lightbulbs that border on the ultra-violet. My retinas are failing.

There are no acoustics. I can perfectly hear the conversation taking place at a table 10 tables away, plus the conversations from the other nine tables in between us. The conversations are not intriguing.

The picture on the wall is crooked, the one directly in my line of sight. Anybody knows to put two nails in the wall so the picture will always be straight. But this is a one-nail restaurant.

But another great thing about this restaurant is their two-for-one happy hour that goes on all night. I don’t know if anyone has ever explained the concept of happy hour to them, but I am certainly not going to be the one to do it. I order my second glass of wine and remind myself that I am not at the Ritz. Breathe in. Breathe out.

OK, things are looking up. The people 10 tables away, talking about the price of plywood, have left. In fact, Mark and I are the only ones left. Ahhhhhh.

And then — I feel my blood pressure shoot up. Oh, yes. I can actually feel it. It’s accompanied by a clenching of the teeth and a tightening of one’s hands into fists.

It’s the busboy with the carpet sweeper. VVVVVbbbo. VVVVVbbbo. VVVVVbbbo. He begins, of course, not in the corner recently vacated by all diners, but in the corner immediately adjacent to my table. He’s not even looking at what he’s doing. Turns out he can scroll through his phone while “sweeping.”

Mark takes a cautious look at me. Last time we were here, I actually spoke to the manager about this. About the annoying sound and the dust particles swirling through the air and the tiny bits of food ostentatiously flying up into my bits of food. Mark is desperate. “Heh. Heh. I’m all finished. What about you?” He makes a move to get up.

I refuse to move. My eyes are narrowed into slits. It is my goal to outlast the carpet sweeper, and Mark knows this. He sits back down with a sigh. I glare at the busboy with hatred as this perfectly nice, hardworking teenager casually scrolls through his phone while sweeping the same two-foot patch of carpet for a full five minutes. By the time he moves on, I am trembling.

But he has moved on. When he does, I stand up as if shot from a cannon and march toward the front desk. Mark beats me there and practically throws his credit card at the hostess to avoid an ugly scene. He grabs a handful of mints and thrusts them toward me as one would thrust a young coyote to an advancing lion.

Mollified, I accept his peace offering.

We leave the restaurant calmly, even though, in the distance, I hear it starting up again. VVVVVbbbo. VVVVVbbbo. VVVVVbbbo.