Thursday, August 5, 2010

That one time I got the last laugh

Only in my dreams...

Tuesday night J and I planned to veg out...lay like broccoli, if you will. Perhaps check out the new Rachel Zoe season premiere (my idea, not his), share a pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream on our uncomfortable new Target futon, just “be”. Instead we got a call last-minute from his brother, Burt*, who wanted to swing by our place that evening (and by “swing by”, I mean drive an hour out of his way) to pick up our storage boxes since he and his girlfriend, Clothilde**, are moving in together soon.

* & **: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

J told them both to head up, and figured since it was Tuesday we could all hit up $1 Taco Tuesdays at an upscale restaurant down the street called Maria Maria (as in “Maria Maria”, that Santana song that won a squillion Grammys the year it came out; Santana -- surprise, surprise -- co-owns the joint). Since a friend recently moved a few miles away, we also invited him to join in on the last-minute taco fiesta.

Now on prior Taco Tuesdays, the bar area had ample elbow room. This week, it was like every last extra from the Van Wilder frat house decided that night was a good night for Mexican food. Scores of would-be Tool Academy participants in their man-tanks and flip flops littered the space as they clutched their Coronas, hitting on every woman seated.

So we waited for the next open table. There was a group already waiting ahead of us, and once a table cleared for them, we were next up in line. More waiting. Entourage was getting restless. Suddenly the clouds parted when we saw people leaving their outdoor table. “Hurry,” I told J, who immediately bee-lined toward the patio door, but before he could reach the doorway a girl came flying in past me from the front door, pushing past J (I’m talking physically shouldering him aside -- and she was at least five inches shorter than him) and promptly sat down in one of the seats seconds before J could reach it. She didn’t look up, just stared at the cell phone through the pounds of makeup on her face, tapping at its screen with her trashy square-tipped acrylic fingernails.

Oh no, she di-int.

What killed me was that the whole staring-at-the-cell-phone-after-being-an-expletive-I-shall-not-name-here thing is SO passive aggressive. If you can’t even man up and make eye contact to avoid the confrontation that will most likely follow then maybe you shouldn’t throw down that figurative gauntlet, my dear. She knew EXACTLY what she had just done, elbowing J aside and plopping down at our table in her tacky polyester clothing. All of a sudden I felt my inner-Lauren Conrad well up and wanted to yell "You know what you did! You KNOW what you DID!!!" in her face. Something along the lines of this:

But instead we all stood inside, watching this situation go down through the large windows, and I saw RED. We watched J throw his hands up and mutter something to her. Turns out he'd said "Are you serious?" to her and she had continued to ignore him, tapping at her phone. According to him it “wasn’t worth it.” Upon hearing this I was seething at how inappropriate the whole scene was and how J was unfortunately too much of a gentleman to tell her to make like Smuckers and jam. What I wanted to do next was go outside and yank her from the table by her nasty little ponytail, but A.) I feel like there’s only a 10-second window of opportunity to confront said person about things like this, and B.) I’m a lady; I don’t go around yanking people’s ponytails like some Jersey Shore extra.

So we waited a couple more minutes and my anger continued to build (news flash: I have slight anger management issues). The bar wasn’t clearing out anytime soon and the entourage was beginning to grumble about leaving. I sighed. Apparently I was going to be the one – like always – to fix this whole debacle.

I strode up to the podium at the front of the restaurant, where a hostess and a guy in a suit were standing. Thinking that at least someone in a suit and a nametag could help me over the general incompetence in the miniskirt next to him I calmly explained to him – with a large smile -- what happened, and asked whether we could just have a table.

Man in Suit: “Uhh…(pause)… you came here for Taco Tuesday though, right?”

I nodded.

MiS: “We can’t do that for Taco Tuesday. I’m sorry.” (And he actually did look sorry, but it didn’t help his case.)

Me: "Look. I was thisclose to going outside and saying something to that girl who SHOVED my husband aside to get to that table, but I didn't want to make a scene in your restaurant…”

MiS: “Oh yes, of course. I’m very sorry that she...”

Me: “…I'm a regular here [ed. Note: I actually am a regular there, which made it even cooler to say since I’ve always wanted the chance to actually use that line] and no staff did anything about what just happened.”

MiS, looking off toward the bar area with an intense hatred of Taco Tuesdays on his face: “Let me see what I can do, hold on. “

Turns out I pick my men in suits well because he came back, shook my hand and introduced himself as the general manager of the restaurant.

“I’m going to put you at one of our dinner tables in the restaurant,” he said.

“Excellent,” was my reply.

My entourage looked on, smiling and satisfied at this news.

“…But first, you will have to sing karaoke,” the GM said.

Suddenly my smile froze. Not because I didn’t want to sing karaoke – actually quite the opposite. I’ve long told J that someday my whole life would culminate to a certain point where I’d be asked, on the spot, to sing karaoke -- and my biggest fear would be I’d have no idea what to sing. Needless to say, over the years I’ve mentally added songs to my karaoke arsenal FOR THIS SPECIFIC REASON, this moment, standing there next to the crowd currently being entertained by a white guy on a tiny corner platform, covering Third Eye Blind songs on his acoustic guitar. They don’t ever do karaoke here…but perhaps they were making an exception for me?

Of course my mind went blank in that life-changing, split-second of being asked. “Noo…” I purred. “You’re joking.” I let out an awkward, uneasy laugh that sounded more like an unintentional fart. “No I’m not,” the GM said with a completely straight face, as though he was diagnosing me with cancer. “You want the table? Sing.”

My smile remained static; my entourage: concerned. After what seemed like five minutes of silence and staring between the two of us, as I mentally ransacked my rolodex of saved karaoke songs and finally hurled it against one side of my mind, deciding in futility to just go with Lionel Ritchie’s “Stuck on you”, he broke out into laughter. “Just kidding, just kidding!” he laughed. “Come, follow me.”

Not only did we get seated at the best table in the house, he profusely apologized for what happened and thanked me for coming to him (and I guess not creating a scene? The wrath of Crystal, after all, can be extraordinary). After we were seated he offered us a round of drinks on the house (Maria Maria's freshly brewed pineapple tequila – let’s just say it was like a tropical island was making love in my mouth) and gave me his business card during our dinner.

I left a large tip after we were through, more than satisfied with the outcome of the night, and after thanking again on my way out, he stressed to call him whenever I come so he can make sure we're taken care of well. "You're a friend now," he said, patting my shoulder. (And somewhere, in the recesses of my mind, I was covertly laying the groundwork for my own Cheers-type place...where everybody knows my name.)

Moral of the story: Ask and you shall receive. But do it all with a smile, no matter how mad you are. It works wonders.


Legally Married said...

Thanks for making me laugh every day (or every blog post)! I'm so mad at wordpress because I've written you a couple of comments on your recent posts and wordpress wouldn't let me publish them! :-/

And, I also have my karaoke list in my head, so you're not alone there! I often practice songs with the radio for the express purpose of being ready for impromptu karaoke. :)

Hope you're getting packed and ready for your fab trip!

COL said...

This made me laugh as well... you are such an awesome writer! Each post is a joy to read!

I'm impressed with your song selection. I do not sing. Well, only in the privacy of my car with the windows rolled up.

Now I have Stuck on You running through my head!

CameronPoe2409 said...

Nice to see some great customer service, hope you get a chance to fulfil your karaoke dream soon!

paisley penguin said...

Aparently you CAN get satisfaction! Good job!

Mandy said...

That was an awesome story! Thanks for sharing it. I'm so glad you can be Cliff, or Norm or whomever you choose to be at Maria, Maria's now! Although I must confess... I'm a little bit disappointed that no pony tail yanking occurred. Somehow I think YOU could even manage to do that with CLASS and STYLE! :-)

Brittany said...

Such a good story, and the last line is SO true "ask and you shall receive." I waited tables at Olive Garden the summer after freshman year, and though it was miserable on so many levels and makes me doubt the general population of the United States' ability to get up and dressed everyday, I was a HORRIBLE waitress. I mean, really bad. But there was one night I had a strangely laid-out section, two booths in a "cave" type area, and an 8 top around the corner, out of sight from the booths. I had a difficult big top that night, and two families in the booths, but the booth people never saw me and must have assumed I was goofing off somewhere instead of coming by their table. Managers were helping me out, and ran their food, refilled their drinks and breadsticks, asked how their dinner was, etc. They had ample opportunity to say they were disappointed in my service. Instead of taking it up with a manager, they stiffed me and left a nice note on the ticket, "YOU SUCK!!" Had they simply told the truth when the manager asked, "How is everything tonight?," they would have gotten their meal on the house, maybe even free dessert and a gift card. Idiots!

Not to mention, for the rest of the summer, coworkers would walk by me and whisper "YOU SUCK!" in my ear. They were only half-kidding.

Pretty Unfamous said...

Good job, girl! Way to do it in style and with class!

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Victoria said...

Hahaha I love this! I very much enjoy reading your blog on a regular basis! Uplifting and engaging :-) Keep it up!

carla said...

You're the (wo)man!! lol!! Glad you got a great table, and I can't stand people like the #%*€£ that stole your table... takes all kinds! *rolling eyes*

Andi said...

Love it!

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