This happened a few years ago at a location which is now a Bar-B-Que place. One Saturday afternoon, I went inside to have lunch. The restaurant was pretty small, but there was no one else in line to order or waiting for their order. I only had an hour for lunch and had driven several blocks to get there, so I was kind of on a tight schedule.
The girl behind the counter took my order easily enough, but never bothered to even ask me for money. She just turned away and slowly started putting the order together. Then she disappeared into the back. I don’t know what all she was doing, but I finally had to take a seat and wait. It took forever! After a long, long while, she set the tray with my lunch on the counter and again turned and walked away. By this time, I was really mad that this was taking so long. I just wanted to pay, eat my lunch and race back to work.
I waited and waited, but no one ever came to ask for money. I wasn’t going to steal the damn meal, so instead I just walked out. In retrospect, I should have said something, but at the time, I was not thinking clearly. My head was about to explode and I’d had enough. I just wanted to get out of there and put the whole experience behind me. As I reached the door, I heard someone calling, “Sir! Sir!” I thought, “Fuck this!” It’s not as if I had paid for something and not gotten it.
I realize I acted too impulsively, but I still wonder what the employees were doing that was so much more important than collecting money from their customers.
Vera Cruz Mexican Restaurant – New Orleans
The restaurant where this story takes place has gone out of business, a fact that made me glad but did not surprise me.
I was in New Orleans with a couple of friends for Mardi Gras a couple years ago. It was the big day, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras Day, so the streets were really crowded and places to eat were few and far between. My friend Rafael and I went to Vera Cruz, a restaurant we had visited before and had had a good experience at. The food was just as good, but the service was terrible, much worse than you would usually get in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
After we finished eating, we were eager to get back outside, but our waiter was nowhere to be found. In fact, we hadn’t seen him for over 30 minutes. We waited, and waited, and waited. It was almost funny. We didn’t know what to do. We considered just skipping out. It was so busy and confusing in there, they would never miss us. Instead, I stopped another waiter and asked, “Is our dinner free today?” I told him we had finished over 30 minutes earlier and had never gotten our check or seen our waiter in all that time.
He promised to find our waiter, and sure enough, about five minutes later, our waiter came rushing through the dining room toward our table. Without pausing or saying a word, he slapped down our bill and raced on by. In a matter of seconds, he was gone again.
That was the last straw for me. We checked the bill and left that amount in cash on the table. Not one penny more.
Papa John’s Pizza
I called and ordered a pizza from Papa John’s. The store was just a couple blocks away from my apartment, so I told them I would come and pick it up. This was mid-afternoon on a Saturday. By this time, I no longer worked on weekends (yay!).
When I got to the store, I parked and went inside. One of the workers acknowledged me right away. He found my pizza, ready and in a box, and set it on the counter. “Somebody will be over to ring it up in a minute,” he said. I had no reason to doubt him, so I waited.
The shop had about nine employees all busy doing various tasks. No one was goofing off, but after a couple of minutes, I started to wonder if anyone even knew I was there. I started to feel like a moron, just standing there. I had even taken my wallet out, eager to pay. Finally after about five minutes, one of them breaks away from whatever he was doing in the office and rings up my order and takes my money. I got out there as fast as I could.
I could see they were busy, but Jesus Christ! Do they not want my money? Isn’t that why they are in business in the first place?