I was filling the empty moments whilst the credit card machine performed it's dramatic whirring and beeping with the usual banal chit chattery. It's always the same, "Heading on out this evening are we?" or "Any plans for the weekend?" or if conditions are right, "Beautiful evening sir, could be a good weekend for [insert any number of prosaic middle class activities here - boat sanding, horse grooming, writing angry letters to the Daily Mail/Belfast Telegraph and so on]
I went with the weather, obviously, as it was warm and pleasant, outside that is, it was hot and sweaty and generally disappointing conditions for the waiting of tables inside.
"Oh it looks fabulous doesn't it?!", exclaimed the previous sullen looking fifty year old gentleman.
I mean right up to that point he had shown no enthusiasm for anything, not the exquisite duck and foie gras terrine he dined on nor the spiffing bottle of Chablis he took 15 minutes to choose and certainly not the playful hugging of his super sweet grandchild. No right up until that moment he was a contrary old bastard. But as soon as I mentioned the favourable weather conditions predicted by scientists, farmers and old people (they can feel it in their bones, apparently) for the weekend he was Mr Saturday Night, Mr Jovial even. His change from sour faced old bastard to the campest man in the restaurant was really rather remarkable.
"Fabulous! It's going to be just fabulous!", he repeated with an unnerving and unexpected swing of his arms. Oh my. I had to take a step back lest he strike me with one of his flailing arms. But he was still to tip so I had to play along.
"Indeed sir, any plans?" I was staring at the machine and willing it to process the payment quicker with every fibre of my sweaty being.
"Well I fancy a jaunt up the coast, let the old girl out", the previous look of death and bitterness that had haunted his eyes was gone and had been replaced with an impish twinkle. I wasn't sure how to respond, was he talking about his wife? She was sitting right there for fuck sake! Oh please god no, I wasn't in the mood for an all boys together type nudge-nudge wink-wink conversation.
Treading where even angles fear I carried on, "Right so...eh..up the north coast then is it?"
"Yes yes....", he was so excited little bits of saliva where forming on the edge of his mouth, nice "...I have a little MG sports car. Gonna let the old girl out, let her rip"
My relief was palpable.
He droned on about the car for what seemed like four hours, "saved her from a scrap dealer.....restored the old girl myself....gotta treat them right...blah blah fucking alloys fucking racing green...blah blah blah" but in fact only about 30 seconds.
Cars bore me senseless but people who talk about cars make me want to hurt something, normally the person talking about them. I glanced, between politely nodding, at the credit card machine. It finally clicked into life and spat out the little receipt. Thank fuckity.
"And there you go sir, you have a fabulous weekend now." I was gonna say fierce but thought better of it.
"Oh I will", says he as he lifted his jacket.
"And what about you, will you be out taking advantage of the sun this weekend waiter?" People who call me "waiter" as if that was my name also make me want to hurt something. Douchery at it's best.
"Me? Oh no sir I'll be working all weekend", I said applying some final leverage into his wallet. Sympathy rarely pays off but worth a try.
"But it's the weekend!", he says all aghast at the thought of someone having to work an entire weekend, more douchery thought I.
"Ah yes sir but your Friday is my Monday and it's a very busy weekend for us."
Slipping some dosh, a decent amount at that, into my sweaty, wet, paw he bade me farewell and off he trundled, no doubt with dreams of racing round the north coast with the wind blowing through the part of his head where there used to be hair.
It's easy to spot waiters on their way to work when it's sunny outside. They walk like whatcha call him from The Verve in that video for that song, Bitter Sweet Symphony. But they slouch like they are carrying the woes of the world and they begrudge, they begrudge everything for everybody. Even happy go lucky me (arf) threw a tantrum on the way to work on Saturday. Repeated punches to the face from Little Miss Manuel put me right. Bless.
Seriously, I hate working when it's lovely and sunny and all your tables are late because they are all drinking outside soaking up the final rays of delicious sunlight and I am left to stare out the window like the child with the debilitating illness that means he isn't allowed to go outside and play with all the other boys. I am off on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, have your brollies at the ready, it will pish down.
Todays post was brought to you by bitterness, an almighty persecution complex and prayers for rain, but not for Tuesday.