Ah Saturday nights. Saturday nights are the zenith of our week, the pinnacle of our seven days of drudgery. All the Waiter Chums and Chums of Waiters are present and correct on a Saturday night, their little faces all a panicky shade of white at the thought of the slog ahead. Waiter Chum Number One and I have no such fear and instead prowl the edges of the restaurant waiting for the hungry hordes of cutlery fiddlers and finger sniffers to arrive and defile my special place. Such is their want.
Friday night had been a rip roaring success despite some creative scheduling and oddly placed reservations which when combined had left us a bit short on the floor. The punters had been happy and tantrum free, the chefs had been both cooperative and pleasing with their sumptuous offerings, management had loosened their authoritarian grip and I was in a jolly mood. It was all rather odd. But we went home with bulging pockets and smiles on our tired little masks.
Far be it from me to say it was perfect, for that is for others to judge, but by fuckity it was. And with hopes of recreating that perfectness we found ourselves on the cusp of yet another Saturday night service.
Two hours in and the first signs that we were not going to recreate the loveliness of the previous evening showed themselves. All had appeared well as we were coming to the end of the first sitting. Waiter Chum Number One headed off for a wee smoke break and I was watching her section. The other Waiter Chums were still holding it together. Which was as nice as it was surprising.
I was called over by a woman on a table of eight who had all finished and was seeking the bill. They were in sparkling form and the wine and whiskey had been flowing freely. Well if I was off to see Michael Flatleys's Lord of the Dance I'd get juiced up too. All that dancing erectitude and kickety feet action doesn't seem like my kind of Saturday night. Then again I'm not a middle aged woman, despite what the chefs may tell you.
"Here listen...", began the lovely woman whilst glugging at her whiskey, oh how I wished to be glugging too, "....that was just really really lovely food and that. And that wee girl what served us, she was just really really lovely too n all so she was."
"Why thank you madam that's very sweet of you to say so." I really do talk like that, seriously.
I returned a moment later with the bill and presented it to the lady who had sought it. The women were having a swell old time and the craic was flowing like the wine and whiskey. I'd say these ladies could have a ball without the hard liquor and grape juice, they were just fun happy people. Around this time Waiter Chum Number One returned from smoking a lovely cigarette, oooh how I miss thee, and I filled her in on the activity in her section since she left. I took my time as I was sniffing in her smokiness. This being what I am reduced to now. I may have to take up drinking again.
"You gave them the bill?", she asked with less appreciation than I had expected. Pfft. Actually I was a bit pfft off. It appears that there were still a few things to be added to the bill before it was presented. Oh crikey. But as it happened the lady who got the bill pointed this out to Waiter Chum Number One as she approached the table. So no harm no foul, just a little red facedness. The corrected bill was presented a moment later.
Now, a few minutes later I was clearing a lively table of six when I felt a tug on my shirt. I spun round, actually my days of spinning round are well and truly in the past so to be honest I lumbered round more than I spun. I expected to find a Waiter Chum or even a Chum of a Waiter or even a manager. What I didn't expect to find was a rubbery faced woman sitting back, at a rather precarious angle I might add, on her seat looking up at me with a stern and peeved looking visage.
"Can I have a word with yis?", she scowled as she spoke. Crikey mummy! Knowing that she probably didn't want to reiterate the lovely platitudes of her friend I took my time clearing the other table in the vein hope that Waiter Chum Number One would happen on the scene before I would have to talk to rubbery faced woman. Alas this was not the case.
"Manager!", she exclaimed as I stood there up to my man boobs in crockery my twig like arms aching under the weight of our bin lid sized plates.
"Scuse me madam?", I asked for no real reason as it was very apparent she wanted to see a manager. But still there is no excuse for the sloppy and brusque manner in which she spoke.
"I wanna see the manager...... bout this bill, it's nat on", she explained whilst clinging to the little bill in one hand and glugging from her whiskey glass with the other.
I retrieved the manager forthwith. He was getting a coffee at the time. Ha! But off he popped like a good soldier onto the field of battle. He returned forthwith looking rather chastened and refusing to spill beans, well to me. But it transpired that one woman, the rubber faced one, was refusing to pay the second bill, the amended bill as she said it was unfair. Actually she said, "it's nat on, so it's nat. We wuz given dis bill and den we wuz given anudder one. It's nat on, so it's nat"
There then ensued some frantic to-ing and fro-ing and hard bartering involving just that one woman and the manager. There was cross table finger pointing and voices raised. I kept my charming little nose out of it and carried on with the other table who were well down their third bottle of shiraz by now and were feeling a touch giddy. Hearing all the shenanigans on the other table they took to loudly exclaiming how much of a wonderful time they had had and how simply superb the service and the food was. Oh my! Whilst amusing afterwards it really wasn't helping at the time.
But yer woman was refusing to pay the amended bill but her chums were. I found this all so confusing. Yes we, and by we I mean me, had given them an incorrect bill but it was they who had honestly pointed out our, and by our I mean my, mistake. So what was the huffing and puffing all about. Her chums ushered her out of the building, which was nice. But each one of them returned over the next five minutes to apologise for their friends behaviour. It was all so frightfully annoying and I felt quite embarrassed for the rubber faced woman and her brassneck. You eat it, you pay for it. End of.....
You wouldn't do that would you? Would you?