December 10th, 2003


"You Call This Italian Food?"

I set the squirming plate before him but his eyes didn't touch it again. The cold blue orbs remained riveted to mine in annoyed impatience as he waited for a reply. I just stood there, hands clasped politely in front of me, towel hanging limply from my forearm and mouth firmly closed. After all, it is impolite to talk down to a customer.

After a moment he spoke the sentence again, adding even more emphasis to the third word and this time gesturing with the clean fork which was already in his meaty hand when I reached the table. "You call this Italian food?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Then how come it don't look like Italian food?"

"I assure you it is, Sir. Everything we serve here is Italian." After a pause I added, "It is an Italian restaurant."

He eyed me suspiciously, then the plate in front of him. "But what is this? I thought I ordered..."

"The house special, Sir, yes. Our chef is a true master of the art and that is his..."

"Yeah yeah," he interrupted, and I couldn't help but start, albeit slightly. However, he didn't notice and continued, "but are you sure my order didn't get switched or something? This isn't what I thought it would look like when I read the menu."

I could see my manager trying to signal me from across the room. He was gesturing toward the hostess who was leading new patrons to their seats. The waiting area was still full and we'd be busy for another three hours. I dropped my glance and reassured the customer again, "That is very much what you ordered, Sir. In fact, it is one of my personal favorites here and I paid special attention to be sure you would get a little extra, no charge."

"Really?" He seemed slightly surprised at this.

"Yes, my pleasure, Sir."

"Well," he looked at the plate again, almost touched the warm entré with his fork, then set it aside. "I've changed my mind, take it back. Gimme the menu again and I'll order something else."

"Yes, right away, Sir... But..."

"Hmm?" he grunted at me, like a boar.

"If you are unsatisfied with your meal we are happy to replace it, but it will be at least another half an hour to forty minutes before it is ready since we are so very busy tonite. Would you like to see the wine list again?" I reached for the plate but he stopped me.

"Oh, well in that case leave it. It was a long enough wait just to get seated and I have someplace to go after this, if you know what I mean." He winked, grotesquely.

"Of course, Sir." I managed a matching smile and suppressed a shudder. "Is there anything else I can get for you?"

"Nah, that's fine. Thanks."

"Very good Sir." I started to turn when he almost stuttered.

"L-listen." I stopped. "I'm sorry about earlier... you know. I know you're really busy and all tonight and I was tired of waiting and... It's just been a hard day. I didn't mean what I said. You actually seem like a real nice guy."

I smiled again, this time, genuine. "Think nothing of it, Sir. It is our pleasure to serve you, and I hope this visit sets things to right." He seemed relieved. I left him to his meal and hurried back to the kitchen.

"Alive, it's alive. It's ALIIIIIIIIIVE!!!"

This is the first time I've written from work so let's see how much I can get in during my allotted 15 minutes.

I took a chance a few minutes ago and made a quick call to a friend I haven't heard from in nearly 3 months. I've been calling and leaving messages regularly but I've gotten no answer or call back. I thought I'd try at an odd time of day and lo and behold! she answered. I was so surprised that I forgot what I was going to say. I had already prepared a message to leave on the answering machine asking to call if she was still alive.

So she's alive and apparently well having been out of town for a couple weeks straight and then having company at home for a couple more. Still, as many times that I called I would have thought someone would have picked up at least once. I'm not sure what to think yet. I would have appreciated knowing that she would be unavailable for an extended period of time so I wouldn't worry. To tell the truth, I was getting ready to leave a message to the effect of "If you don't want to talk to me again please let me know at least that much." and "Can I have my stuff back?" since she still has my boombox on a long-term loan. Plus, I think I left some empty CD cases the last time I was there.

Anyway, we used to hang out regularly and chat on the phone at least once a week but I think not long before she "vanished" we may have been drifting a little. Still, I didn't think it was enough to worry about since we both had some minor changes in our lives, her job and my other obligations on weekends. One thing that occurred to me is that she found a boyfriend which would be nice. I still don't know how many friends she has in the area since she moved her a couple years ago. An unsettling thought I had was that she thought we were dating and was hurt by something I may have said or done somewhere along the line. We aren't, but never really talked about it to make it clear.I don't really put much toward that possibility at the moment because what I heard today makes more sense. Still, she could have called.

Carp, time for work again. Maybe more later tonite.
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