Lunch Time Alone.


My work schedule is somewhat chaotic. Several days a week, I teach in the morning, either from eight to one, or nine to 12:30 and then there is a gap from 1pm until 6pm. On the up side, I use that time to grade papers so that the majority of my work happens at the school. I don’t grade many papers at home. On the down side, I have to eat lunch out, usually alone, on my long days. This is not a good thing.

I call people, “What are you doing? Join me for lunch? Oh, I have plenty of time, I’ll wait for you.” It borders on groveling.

But people are busy. Gas is too expensive to drive to meet someone just for lunch.  I usually eat alone. I’ve blogged about it before, here. As most of my regular readers know, I have…issues…with restaurants. I’ve written about it. Remember, almost a year ago now, Colonel Sanders? It’s not about the food, but the people; the waiters, cooks and customers. For example:

Olive Garden:

I need to remember to use both headphones while eating lunch, really, I do. In one ear, the Boss singing This Land Is Your Land, in the other a woman telling her daughter that if she was called for jury duty she would vote guilty, no matter the evidence. She had been inconvenienced… Um, ok. I was never one of those if you don’t like the way we do things in America then just leave sort of people. But, honey, if you don’t like the system here, try living someplace else! What if Tom Jefferson, or Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, or John Kennedy had thought that way?

What would the Boss or Woodie Guthrie say?

Oh, but, she is such a piece of work! She said to her daughter, “Your life is decided by now. By the ninth grade you are the prom queen, a slut, or a cosmetologist. And you ain’t pretty enough to be prom queen so you have some choices to make.”

Her attractive daughter was talking about medical school…

The elderly couple at the table on the other side of me asked the waitress if they could be seated somewhere else. I don’t think mom was a prom queen, nor do I think, based on her hair, that she is a cosmetologist. You do the math.

TGI Fridays:

I probably won’t eat lunch here alone again. I have been listening to disco-esque music and a conversation about how one should behave in a strip club. I am guessing the tipsy young man didn’t realize I was on the other side of the half-wall. And why wouldn’t he be tipsy at one in the afternoon in the middle of a work week? I mean, really. And just so you know, his, apparently informed, opinion was that one should not go to a strip club unless they are involved in a serious relationship. Who knew?

Back to the Olive Garden:

Table #1 “Why would I watch the Presidential debates? Wife Swap was on.”

Table #2 “Why did you pick this place — it’s all white-folk food.”

Table #3 “Wouldn’t Newt and Sarah make a great ticket, it wouldn’t even matter which was which.” Well I suppose I agree with that: Newt president, Sarah president; it really wouldn’t matter much. Except maybe to people with an IQ above… Oh, say a 10. Either way, it’s a nightmare.

Table #4 (from the waitress to the man whose wife had a diamond on every finger), “Let me just explain the check to you, here is your total, fill in a tip here, and sign it at the bottom and everything will be just fine.”

Yeah, because I’m sure a man who can put diamonds on every finger of his wife’s hand wouldn’t know how to fill out a credit card receipt.

Burger King:

Fast food, how hard can it be?

I stopped for a quick bite to eat at Burger King (across from the mall — buyer beware!). The attendant was…what’s the right word? oh yes, bitchy. She repeated my order back to me: 1 whopper with cheese no pickles, no ketchup, 1 whopper with cheese no tomatoes, 1 double cheeseburger, plain.

Then she gave me a total.

She was snippy standing there at the second window…snapped my card away from me, practically threw it back at me (Ian all the while cautioning to be understated).

There was no illusion of fast food – it took her 10 minutes. Even Ian became impatient.

We drove to pick Jamie up from work. I parked the car and I opened my whopper (no pickles, no ketchup) No cheese. But there was ketchup. Now I knew what took the awesome attendant so long; she had tried to scrape off my sandwich! Really? Really??

Ian’s burger had 2 cold pieces of cheese. Clearly, the staff had not put ten minutes worth of effort into our dinner.

I called the BK to complain.

The evening manager says, “Iffen you bring it back I can swap it out.”

Really, Dude? You scraped the ketchup off my whopper! That is disgusting! And iffen I had the time to come back, I would have had the time to stop somewhere and get real food! “I want to talk to your boss!” I demand.

The Einstein of fast food gives me his boss’ name and a phone number. Now hungry and angry, I call…

The awesome evening manager gave me the store manager’s cell number. The poor manager was at home eating dinner with his wife and kids…

I said, “Well that’s nice, I don’t get any dinner now! I hope you enjoy.”

He told me to come by with my receipt tomorrow and he’ll make it right. I hope he fires everyone!

Have it your way, my ass!

Pescados:

Woman #1 “Oh my god! Thank you for Scott, best sex I have ever had.”

Woman #2 “Isn’t he though? Happy to share and he isn’t too expensive.”

I focus on CNN. These women are in their sixties. They look suburban middle class. I tap through news stories on my iPad but when I tune in again…

Woman #1 “I told her to never tell her grandmother, it’s an abomination, a sin. I’ve read the bible. I don’t want her to go to hell. But there it is, she will. She is my daughter, and I love her, but she’s an abomination. She can’t take her girlfriend to her cousin’s wedding.”

Alrighty then. So, paying for a man that you share with a friend, not a sin. Homosexuality, not just a sin, but an abomination that keeps you from family gatherings and sends you to hell.

I have lunch adventures that we could liken to the Twilight Zone. I could not make this stuff up. This is why I don’t write fiction, this is my life.

I rarely have lunch experiences surrounded by sane, normal people. It happens every time I eat alone. Weird people crawl to of the woodwork to surround the people eating alone. They must.

Woman #2 “Why would anyone choose to be that way?”

I check to see if I have text messages, voice mail, any sort of communication from the real world beyond the black hole of lunch alone.

Woman #1 “She is rebellious. Always has been. She is doing this just to be difficult.”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s it. I start thinking, I  should get the rest of the meal to go….

Woman #1 :I don’t know what she’d do without me, I love her so much, and I am so liberal.”

I may starve to death. Seriously.

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