They Were In the Bathroom All Along

Today was a cool and rainy day; a perfect day for staying in.  You know me.  I immediately yanked Tater Tot up and headed out the door.  

We went to the school where I used to teach and visited with my teacher buddies while they had lunch. 

After leaving the school, it was time for our lunch, so we headed to O’Charley’s.  I was craving the rolls (baked by angels, I’m convinced), and they have the cutest little ol’ cheeseburgers for toddlers.  In general, we’ve always had good service, and that’s saying something when you’re tending to anyone with a toddler in tow. When it comes to toddlers, it’s like Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Tater Tot was in a great mood.  He was happy to see all the strangers and waved hello and/or goodbye to everyone who passed by.  We were seated in a booth next to the big Plexiglas window looking into the kitchen, which totally made his day.  He did a little flirtin’ with the ladies in there.  They did a little flirtin’ back, which brought on some super-good giggles.  Not once did the little man feel compelled to use his outside voice, and to top things off, he colored on the coloring sheet ONLY and resisted his usual urge to color on everything else.  He was a delightful dining companion.

Our server would have found him a delightful patron, too, had she bothered to show up more than once or twice.  

Today, the restaurant was neither packed, nor did it appear to be understaffed.  There were several servers dashing to and fro, taking care of the hungry folks who were eating lunch.  Umm….everyone’s server except ours.  Ours just kind of drifted in and out.  It was almost funny until I reached my limit.

I overlooked having to ask her twice for a booster seat after we were seated. I finally got up and found one.  No big deal.  I’m an adult and can do for myself, and I kind of like scavenger hunts.

After asking for silverware when she brought my salad and receiving none for about five minutes, I finally asked someone else for it.  I hated to bother someone else with something that our waitress should’ve taken care of, but Tater Tot and I had already picked off and eaten the croutons, tomatoes and cucumbers with our fingers.  I draw the line at eating the rest of the salad with our fingers. You know, in public.

I would’ve liked a little more iced tea, but it wasn’t a big deal.  I’m sure the people around us didn’t mind my slurping every so often as I tried to drink whatever ice had melted.  Besides, I had a bottled diet coke in the car with a little still in it.  I could hang on.

I saw other servers with bubbly personalities, laughing it up with their patrons.  I shrugged off our bad-server-luck as just that — bad luck.  Maybe she was having a bad day; maybe she was doing the best she could; blah, blah, blah.  Just chuckle and go on.

But then, y’all…

Tater Tot had a little near-choking but not life-threatening incident.  You know how toddlers tend to get way more in those little mouths than will actually go down their throats?  It was one of those incidents, so when I realized what was happening, I grabbed both napkins as I gave him a good whack.

The good news is that everything was dislodged, he was fine, and no one around us had to see everything he tried to cram down his little throat thanks to the two napkins I used.  The bad news is that I was left at the table with a toddler and no napkins.  

Our server happened by, miracle of all miracles, and I asked if we could please have a couple of napkins.  Now, I don’t know if she didn’t know where they keep the big napkins or what. But after a considerable amount of time, she waltzed by without stopping and dropped two cocktail napkins on our table.  

Yes, you read that correctly.  Two cocktail napkins, which when folded, have the absorbing power of one generic sheet of toilet paper.

Heck.  By that time, I’d already used the sleeve of my shirt to wipe ketchup off of Tater Tot’s face.  And the hem of my shirt…well, let’s just not go there.  Thank goodness for Greased Lightning, folks, ’cause it’s getting the stains out in the laundry as we speak.  (Seriously, you can use it to clean anything.)

Serve-less chick tried to make cutsie small talk once she brought our check, but I was done with the talking.  I paid the check, left a more than generous tip for the service, or lack thereof, and we got ready to hit the road.

Since we had a 30-minute drive ahead, we made a trip to the restroom before heading to the car.  Tater Tot was fascinated by the automatic paper towel dispenser.  We got his hands all washed and when I put him down, the thing just started rolling out one continuous sheet of paper towel!  Oh, the look on his face was worth a million dollars!

He turned around and looked at me and said, “Mama! Na-kins!”

Ohhhhh.  So that’s where they keep them.  Somebody really should tell that waitress.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. noble pig
    Oct 17, 2008 @ 00:25:22

    How completely annoyed I would have been. Who know what her problem was but it was not right. Glad the boy was alright!


  2. Lora Lynn
    Oct 17, 2008 @ 09:46:41

    Ugh. I hate that.

    Love O’Charley’s rolls, though. When I was pregnant with the twins I entertained my husband’s entire family by consuming at least NINE rolls with butter before my mother-in-law quit counting. (She couldn’t see from the tears rolling down her face from laughing.) They’ve never let me forget it.


  3. kim sue
    Oct 17, 2008 @ 09:57:45

    way, way up on my pet peeve list are BAD servers and I really think I am easy to please but this is the exact thing that sends me over the edge…I mean a tea refill and some napkins?


  4. Melanie
    Oct 17, 2008 @ 10:24:16

    I’ve never been to O’Charley’s but I know I had that waitress! Props to you for how well you handled yourself. I don’t think I would have made a fuss either but I’m not sure I would have left as generous a tip. Good for you.


  5. Tater Mama
    Oct 17, 2008 @ 13:56:22

    Well, it’s not like I left her a huge tip, but I left the standard 15-18% that you normally leave for good service, even though I didn’t think she was good AT ALL. So, in my mind, it was more than generous. I have a guilt-thing going when it comes to waiters/waitresses. Part of me was thinking that maybe she was just having a rotten day and it was all she could do to show up for work. Who knows.

    My Dad was a very fair tipper and actually tended to be pretty generous. Once, after eating out and having not-so-great service, he still left a nice tip and I asked why. He told me that leaving no tip or a really low one was like writing someone a nasty note and not signing your name. That one has stuck with me.


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