...when dining out. (One of my best friends loves to see what I will be getting for free when we go to eat. It is that bad.)
We had been out of town for a dance competition this weekend. We were staying in a new hotel so everything was clean. The girls won first place for their tap routine. The weather had been generally good. All in all it had been a good weekend.
But the usual chaos ensued when I tried to go out to dinner with the kids. It started with a trip to Sam Moon as a surprise for Caitlin and her upcoming birthday. She had never seen one before. Neither had I for that matter, but had heard rave reviews from all sorts of people. That's why I drove an extra 30 minutes out of our way to go.
If you have never been, here is a small idea of what this mega store is all about. Walls and walls and rows and rows of jewelry and purses and scarves and hats and totes and so on. It ended up not being that big a deal for me as it was for my friends, but we can go into that issue in another post.
The kids were hungry, but I promised Caitlin that she could have whatever she wanted from there as an early birthday surprise, so we were there about an hour. While we were there, my phone died and I hadn't packed a charger. I thought I was up a creek since I had plans to meet friends the next day and still had a long drive home as well. As we walked out of the store, I saw a phone accessory store and ran over there. The nicest people were in there. ( I had no idea they were about to close because most retailers don't close until 8 or 9 and it was only 6:30.) They helped me find a car charger for my phone for only 12.95, opened up a register, and I was on my way.
So far an okay day...
When we had pulled into this new shopping center, we spied several restaurants, two of which we have at home. I suggested we go to BJ's because James was set on having chicken and french fries. Since we waited to eat until after our shopping spree, the restaurant was packed, but they said it was a 20-30 minute wait. I didn't know the area and figured it would another 30 minute trip back to the hotel and the restaurants around it, so we stayed. It turned out to be longer than that and I started seeing people who came after me get seated and I asked when we would be seated. The girl at the check in stand said we were next, so you can imagine my surprise when another party of three was called before me. I walked up with my pager and said, "You said I was next." The girl tried to push the problem off on the other hostess who then said we would be the very next party to be seated. I then posted myself right by her station until she gave us a table.
I have eaten many times at this chain of restaurants. I have never had a problem, even though I have terrible problems at restaurants in general. (I have earned many a free meal/gift card.) That's why it never occurred to me that there would be a problem here.
Drinks and appetizers arrived without a hitch. Then we wait and wait a.n.d...w.a.i.t. The front end manager comes out and says their was a problem with Caitlin's food and they had to remake it. James and my food is ready would I like to have it now. I suggest they bring James' dinner because it is now late and he is losing all sense of restaurant decorum. Then we wait and wait (well you get the picture.) Then a kitchen manager comes out with our food only Caitlin's is obviously burnt. "Seriously?? Would you have eaten that?" I think to myself. I tell him she is not eating it, and he takes it back to the kitchen to try again. When it finally comes back, I am halfway through with my dinner. James has given up being good. He wants to sit next to his sister and hug and kiss her. (This may seem like a sweet thing to those of you who don't know Caitlin, but she hates to be touched.) I am trying to not make a scene.
The manager comes over and apologizes for all the problems and offers to make it up to me by not charging us for Caitlin and my food and by offering her dessert. (Great, we will be here even longer.) He brings us the best dessert ever, but the kids are fighting over what's their part even though I clearly delineated, "This is yours and this is hers."
As I stagger out of the restaurant into the cold (the weather took a sudden change for the worse,) I look at the clock and see it is now 9 pm. Holy moley, we were in there over 2 hours. Now I still have to drive back 30 minutes to our hotel, wrangle James into bed and somehow fall asleep in strange bed.
As I mentioned before, this is NOT an unusual event for me at restaurants. My food is usually the one that is lost or forgotten or wrong. Sometimes my entire party is forgotten by the waitstaff. But the fun we have sitting around laughing and telling stories makes up for this most of the time...oh yeah and the fact that I usually get it for FREE.
Today, I am meeting one more friend for a meal. A friend that I haven't seen in 20 years. Maybe I should warn her beforehand.