Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Trouble With Restaurants

I was driving downtown today on my way home and went by a little restaurant I eat at once in a while and I noticed they had the chairs upside down and setting on the tables. I've seen that lots of times at various places and it's never hit me before that people's butts are on those chairs all day and then they're in contact with the table all night. Do you suppose they wash the tables in the morning? I bet they don't. Meaning, obviously, that whatever's in the pants of people one day is under your plate the next. You've got your silverware there, your hands resting, your napkin soon to go to your lips.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I have troubles with restaurants that I'm conscious of all the time, even though this business with the chairs is something new. As to that last point, it's not in play in places that have booths, which I'll insist on from now on. I normally choose a booth anyway.

One of the things that's a constant with me -- and I usually just go ahead and risk it -- is pulling the chair out and going through the process of sitting on it. When you're seated, you're scooching in, meaning you generally grasp the sides of the chair. Right there! I'm thinking, what am I putting my hands in every time I do that?

There's plenty of places you can go -- fast food places mainly -- where the tables aren't wiped down after people leave. So you have an accumulation of crumbs, water spots, etc., and that's not so good. I don't like it. We usually do just sweep them off with a napkin and unwrap our meal and eat it on its paper. I don't think about this one extensively. I used to do a lot of camping with my family, and you get used to all the primitive conditions in life. Plus, I believe I'm close to immune by now to most of what's out there. I'm going to be OK. But that doesn't apply to the smelly butt stuff from above. That's too fresh and too nasty to my senses for immunity.

And of course everyone's experienced the thrill of unwrapping their silverware -- even at fancy, expensive places -- and finding the crustacean of past meals stuck between the tines or encrusted somewhere on the surface. Good grief, this is one that I don't fully understand, but partially, because of course it's gone through a dishwasher; it hasn't gotten the attention of an employee whose job it'd be to fully inspect it. And even if it did, they probably wouldn't be so dedicated as to make sure it was spic and span.

I've heard it said a thousand times that if you saw what went on in the kitchen of most restaurants you wouldn't eat there. I don't know if that's true or not. There's some very nice people working there and they couldn't all keep it quiet, could they? Still, it makes you wonder what does go on. I'm afraid to send anything back -- and here we're entering Seinfeld territory -- for fear that it'll come back worse, i.e., with mucous mixed in with it somewhere. My mother was notorious for sending stuff back and she never reported any extra, unwanted substances or sauces, so maybe that's just my imagination.

Most of my experiences in restaurants have been lovely, nothing terrible to report. I have pet peeves when it comes to certain things, such as the waitress checking on your too many times or too few times. There's a happy medium in there somewhere, and it's up to them to know what it is. I was just at a steak place yesterday -- one that I don't really like that much, since I've never enjoyed it one single time I've ever been there. The waiter told us hello at the door and seated us. Then we were left for a while. After a bit he comes over and apologizes for the wait and tells us no one informed him that they sent everyone home, so he would be waiting on us.

He checked on us once or so, then I was out of a drink for a while and wondering where he went. After a while, he somehow remembered us over in the corner and came and refilled out drinks. Then he was a little lax in getting our bill to us. We were up, walking around, looking at the pictures on the wall, waiting for him. Other than that, the food wasn't bad, there was just too much of it. This was a lunch menu and I had enough for two meals.

I'm getting used to the whole new routine of paying with a debit card. It feels a little funny not to be leaving a tip on the table, but by now I'd guess the waitresses know what's going on. And maybe they even get a little more than they used to because you didn't always have adequate small bills for a typical tip. With the debit card, I think I'm fairly generous. And perhaps we have a whole new breed of waitresses who don't even remember seeing money on tables. I never liked putting money on the table anyway, for fear that some of the dishonest looking guests around me would steal it.

What else? I'm sure there's plenty of other peeves I have about restaurants, but those are what I can think of tonight.

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