Happy Mothers' Day
I am now old enough to wait patiently behind slow moving drivers, reminding myself about the famous virtue. But I was in something of a hurry to get to the Longhorn Steak House on Mothers' Day so I actually passed the old driver who was creeping along at the speed limit. Pick-up time was 5:30. Dinner was at 6 and our own old people get grouchy when it's late.
We had something of a debate over Longhorn or Ourback and this time Longhorn won because our dearly beloved wanted surf n turf and the lobster was much better at Longhorn. Outback was preferred because it has more experience handling carryout. So I called in the Longhorn order and they said they don't have lobster, so I checked with the dearly beloved who said she would be happy with a 12-ounce steak. Then they don't have a 12-ounce steak. Eight ounces was the max. So I went with that.
Got to the Longhorn and the parking lot was full. There were four carryout slots and they were full and the other cars were filled with people waiting for carryout. The guy on the phone said you just wait in your car and someone will come out and verify your order and deliver the food. I waited. This appeared to be a prescription for disaster. I waited. No one approaches the car. There is a young woman running from car to car on the other side of the parking lot. I called my friend Pat to pass the time. He's in Virginia making Chili for Mothers' Day dinner. A sensible solution it seemed to me. I then spotted an employee. Hung up the phone and tracked the kid down.
Yes, he said, I'll take your name down and be right back. I told him I was scheduled for a 5:30 pickup. He said "Sir, all these people are scheduled for a 5;30 pick up." I got back in the car called Pat back. We laughed it off... maybe the presnut is in charge... I spied another wait person, this one bringing out food to a car. Signed off with Pat. It's now 6:10.
Food was delivered to the car next to mine. I flagged down the waitperson. "Who is responsible for this mess?" I asked. She rolled her eyes. "Longhorn,"[i] she said. "They didn't bring in enough help. They just drafted wait staff to help in the kitchen." What are the chances? "They should get to it soon," she said.
I'm imagining the fool who failed to figure out that if you schedule ... say... thirty dinners to be delivered at the same time, you would have to have a substantial staff and plenty of planning. Not to mention that this was likely more than 30 dinners. The lot was full. I could see the front door from my car. The crowd there grew and shrank over time. Now there were 16 standing there. People came and left. Some careening angrily from the parking lot.
It's 6:30. I call home, threatening to leave. Fact is we don't have a Plan B. Will says he and Swillar will put together some appetizers and see what kind of a meal we can cook quickly. The dearly beloved asks that I stay on. I tell her I'll give it until 7.
I am waiting. There was a pretty good blues program on 90.1.
It's 6:45. I track down the waitperson again. You've got until 7, I said. I have never waited that long for service anywhere in my life. "You should be coming up, " she said, "they are starting to get to the 5:30s."
I'm thinking of memorable restaurant failures. Otherwise known as "THE LAST TIME I EVER WENT TO THAT FUCKING PLACE." The time I took Harry and Shirley to my favorite business lunch spot because the service was extraordinary and Shirley had been having a run of bad luck with restaurant service. We sat for a good 15 minutes before they came with water and menus. The first thing Shirley ordered they didn't have. The second thing she ordered they didn't bring because they brought something else. They put onions in her salad. The waiter was rude and no one ever apologized. Then there was Uno's. We were returning from Maine, hungry. We had been driving for 10 hours. A party of six including three adolescent boys. It took 20 minutes to put in an order and another 30 before it was delivered. Every order was screwed up. My order was forgotten entirely and I refused to wait until they got it right. Red Lobster? I tried to remember what I had against Red Lobster, but I have vetoed return visits so often that they quit asking to go there. I still hate the place. That was 15 years ago.
I wait. The blues show is off. Its 7. I've been here since 5:30. The wait person comes by. "What's your name again"?, she asks. I spell it for her twice. "I think it's ready," she says. She stops to answer questions from the multitude. I wait. She's out the door with a large bundle. The crowd begins to part to let her through. She stops to explain something. I wait. She arrives. Mission accomplished! She smiles, I open the back door. There is already a 20 percent tip on the bill. I slipped her an added $5. It's 7:10. I have never waited this long without being completely pissed off. It's not my day. It's Mothers Day.
So here is the review: We had two filet mignons for the old people. They were burnt to perfection (just then way they like them). They were also cold. Poor Shirley, the senior Mother, couldn't eat hers. The baked potatoes were not cooked. Swillar, usually sanguine, found her chicken sandwich acceptable. Will and I had the salmon. It was dried out and cold and burnt. No amount of microwaving could save it. The wine was good Swillar brought it . The beloved one, whose 12 ounce steak was really only 8 ounces because that's all they had, won the prize. It was a perfect medium rare, the mashed potatoes were still hot and the gravy excellent.
I got the consolation prize: three coupons for free appetizers good only at the bar!! I will be so excited to collect.