My husband and I planned to celebrate our ninth anniversary on Friday. The evening started out a bit more hectic than I initially planned. It was so easy to leave the house before my son was born. These days I need to prepare dinner, cut up snacks for later, pull out his pajamas, make certain there are towels in the bathroom and diapers on the changing table.
I was sweaty and hot from running around the yard with my son and in desperate need of a shower, so I jumped in and rinsed off for five minutes. If I had any sense I would’ve waited until after preparing for our departure, but for some reason I took my shower first. By the time I ran up and down the stairs five or six times I was really regretting that decision.
I’m not sure where my husband was while I was getting things ready, but men often don’t think about stuff like that before leaving the house. I wasn’t angry about it. I was simply feeling hot and flustered. Earlier in the week I asked my husband to decide where he wanted to go, but as we loaded into the car he told me he hadn’t picked a place to eat. He decided on a general location, (a place with a lot of different restaurants), but didn’t know the address. Ugh.
I really didn’t want to get out my iPhone to search for addresses. Luckily I had previously stored a restaurant near that location in my GPS, so I clicked the button and began to drive off. It was one of those rides, you know the ones, where it seems like there are a ridiculous number of cars on the road, where you are already feeling a bit disgruntled and agitated and seeing brake lights all around you isn’t really helping.
Along the way my husband kept saying “I don’t think you are going to the same place I was thinking.” The GPS appeared to take us on an entirely different route this time and since I wasn’t exactly sure what he was thinking I wasn’t sure if he was right. Ugh.
When we finally arrived we drove to a parking garage that was packed with cars. First level, no spaces. Second level, no spaces. Third level, no spaces. At the top of the garage, (level 6), we managed to find a space. The entire time we drove around in circles in that garage I couldn’t help but thinking this is going to be a long night. If the garage is this full, (there are three other garages nearby), we are going to wait forever to be seated and even longer to eat.
We walked by a few restaurant doors and peeked at the menus before settling on a place. The hostess stand didn’t have anyone standing near it and we waited for a few minutes before someone came to assist us. As we were walking to our table a hurried and very tired looking waiter exchanged words with the gentlemen who was seating us.
We chose to sit outside and quickly noticed a lot of disgruntled people around us. We waited for a bit before anyone came to take our order. The waiter who eventually appeared was the same tired one we saw earlier. My husband made a comment about getting up and going somewhere else, but I said, “no let’s stick here.”
And in that moment, sitting outside on a beautiful October evening my entire attitude changed. I suddenly realized we weren’t in any particular hurry. Our son was being well taken care of at home. We were out alone, which is an absolute rarity these days. The temperature was perfect and it was Friday so we had the entire weekend ahead of us.
While I felt unbelievably calm I noticed the people around us getting more agitated then ever. One gentlemen who had been waiting for drinks for quite awhile snipped at the waiter in a derogatory tone. Other customers were throwing their arms into the air whenever he walked outside to ask for the check, for water or for a menu.
A minute after ordering we received a lucky break. A server came out and brought us two beers, we told him we only ordered one, but he placed them down on the table anyway. After drinking a few sips he returned to inform us they were intended for a different table. Ooops. It was too late to return them now, so we sat outside sipping beer and chatting. It seemed very fitting that the beer showed up the minute I changed my attitude about the evening.
The waiter came over at some point and apologized for the delays. I think he was overburdened by too many tables. Maybe another employee had called in sick, because although service was slow it was obvious that he was trying his best to help his customers. We told him not to worry and that we could tell he was busy.
When our food arrived the appetizers showed up at the same time as our meals. Oh, well we thought. We can’t change it. The waiter came over to apologize for the food being delivered all at once and again we told him not to worry about it. The more we told him not to worry the more he seemed to ask us if we needed anything else.
After our meal my husband looked at me and said “I’d like to give this guy a really good tip.” I said how about $20. It was a $60 bill, but my husband quickly wrote down $30. He looked up at me, because he knows I can be thrifty and said, “He’s having a really rough night and it’s obvious he’s trying.” I agreed. And with that we left a 50% tip.
In the blink of an eye I changed my entire attitude about the evening. I could have been sour and tired and cranky all evening or I could settle back in my chair and appreciate the fact that slow service meant more time alone with my husband. I married a remarkable man. I knew that before I sat down on that Friday evening, but leaving that $30 tip confirmed it.
*Photo Credit: Robert Donovan