24 July 2008

25July-self-indulgent post on how some people deal with impatience
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You know, it's interesting.
I was driving home this afternoon singing "In Dreams" along with Roy Orbison and a self-consciousness overtook me.
What if, thought I, a person with whom I had some sort of altercation at the restaurant saw me happily crooning in my automobile?
This put a temporary end to my dulcet tones.
I have, from time to time, found myself in the unpleasant position of having to defend the restaurant when ticket times creep up and up. If I'm called to a table to smooth something over it is, inevitably, about a ticket time. Admittedly, on some terrible nights, it can take up to an hour for food to come out. At this time I don't begrudge anybody some impatience with our system but it seems like most of the ways with which one decides to express one's dissatisfaction are condescending, unpleasant, and generally unflattering to the complainer. I've had people mock my apologies (I sometimes press my palms together when I talk. I had a woman come behind the bar to complain about her 40 minute wait and, at my apologies, she mimicked my body language, pressed her palms together at me and said "Oh really? You're sorry?"), people refuse to accept my apologies (a friend of a friend of the restaurant came up to me to complain about how starved he was and how long things were taking and how, as he was with a friend of the restaurant, he didn't understand why things were taking so long. I tried to explain to him that X amount of people ordered their meals before he did and that we needed to complete their orders before we could complete his. He told me he didn't want my apologies, rather, he wanted me to do something about it. Later on I heard from his server -to whom he had said "If you ever work somewhere else I'll happily go there but I'm never coming back here"- that I had told him "That's just the way it is." While that is the crux of the problem, those were certainly not my words. Everytime I happened to look in his directions he was giving me this melodramatic evil eye that looked like a B-movie director had told him "O.K., you're angry, you're angry. Now seethe!" His server told me a couple of times that night "Oh, man. He hates you!"), and I've had people just say matter-of-factly that everytime they've been in they've had to wait a long time for their meals and that this was unacceptable.

What to do.

I can remember, one time at an unnamed Shop that bills itself as Gourmet, Leigh and I waited for a half hour to be acknowledged before we decided to get up and leave. Neighboring tables were seated and taken care of several times over. A table's dog was actually given a bowl of water and we still had yet to be given menus. By the half-hour mark we knew that none of the servers (none of whom had even made eye contact with us) was going to lean in and take one for the team and wait on us. So we left. For a number of reasons. We're not complainers, by nature, for one. What good would it have done, for another. Was this the right response? Who's to say?

I tell myself this: the people who make a fuss and complain and seem to go out of their way to be asses aren't angry at me. I mean, they are angry at me but, deep down, something else is going on in their lives and when they're faced with a situation in which they can take control and vent and make a spectacle because they're ostensibly in control they take advantage of it and go to town with their anger. Like the Stanford Experiment, some personalities will suddenly settle into the role of the superior and they will behave in a way that would seem inhuman if directed to those they consider peers. There's no reason to return their anger. If that means absorbing abuse, so be it. Like Henry Hill in "Goodfellas" said, "The way I see it, everybody's gotta take a beating sometime."

So I'm driving along, worrying a bit that if someone I've upset sees me singing they'll begin to fume at my happiness in the face of the memory of their unhappiness. What right do I have to be happy? Or, of course he's happy; he doesn't care anyway.

And then I thought. Fuck it. I like this song. This is my life. We work damn hard to do the best we can.

I'm singing "In Dreams."

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