You know who some of the worst diners are? Don't even think about it. I'll tell you right here and now. The church people. More specifically, the religious ones. I know! I would have never thought it, either. But guess what... they are.
They come rushing in, all but pushing and shoving to make room for the others coming to join them; and it's like these people use their religion as a crutch, an exemption, or an excuse to behave badly or in a way less concerned with Christ himself than to be socially acceptable or even superior in some martyrish, otherwise socially inept way. They're part of a group, any group, and all groups mean strength in numbers, don't they? So they all come in with a like mind and don't have to behave or be aware, even if they're known in some other capacity without this herd, because they are in a group of people associated with some kind of piety.
I really don't mean to judge. I am just surprised to have been 'suddenly' made aware of this. I mean, I always try and see the other sides of it, see their side, their angle, other angles, other sides, let it go on the principle of not being a judge of any kind, but it's like the behavior just kept coming and coming...
I would normally, sort of, kind of, in this public setting, belong to this group. I go to this church (when I'm not working ON THE SABBATH), I pray the prayers at Mass with these people, I say amen to the same things they do. But this day, just as many others prior, they all flock in to a big table. They do not rearrange the tables, but the leading lady, the dominant prayer task force leader, prayer initiator extraordinaire to be reckoned with, beckons and assigns all fellow parishoners to the table she has chosen.
I do not wait on this table. It is not in my section. But I bring them their food as a favor to another server. I have barely sat the last plate down when DomiPraytrix demands they all say grace, like a mother to forgetful children. Every other woman at the table is older than her, but they all set down their forks, stop what they are doing, and bow their heads.
I am stuck. I don't have to stay there, but I feel it too awkward to leave as they all know me and I figure maybe it would be okay to stand there in prayer with them. I am not normally this testimonious. I prefer to keep my faith quiet. But I stay. They say "amen", I say "amen", I smile nervously and huff a laugh, hoping for a smile or two for having joined them, but get nothing, and walk away feeling somehow cheapened by it all. Whether it was me or any other waitress, could they have NOT waited until said waitress left to start saying their prayer?
(or so I'm assuming from the corresponding pastor to have joined them later)
They move tables, but they don't just connect them end-to-end, as the most appropriate way to be disrespectful goes. They join them perpendicularly, so as to form an "L" shape, seating a wheelchaired woman in the crook of the "L" and threatening to block the aisle with chairs from the other side. I make this discovery in near-sheer horror coming off my 15 minute break.
I hate going on breaks on Sunday because of this very thing. I leave and hell always breaks lose, though it doesn't break lose because I'm gone. It's just on-going hell loosening. This is just the usual hell loosening when the swells of people come, orders continue to be sent back to the kitchen, cooks' tempers flaring, customers barking, the remaining patient and kind customers being the only ones who truly deserve our attention.
I take stock of The "L". I cannot get out of taking this table. The other girls laugh in hearty understanding and also in "ha, ha, this one's yours." I take a breath. It's the last time I remember to breathe for a while. I approach the "L", I stand at the corner, I look everyone in the eyes, assess the drinks situation, brace my notepad, lift my pen.
The mother orders for her three children, the grandmother orders for herself, and the three other adults left take their sweetass time ordering with menus open. I offer to give them more time, but the mother orders for herself. The grandmother can't hear what the sides are for her meal. I am using all my diaphragm to project my voice. The noise is boisterous and unrestrained. The kids blurt out things and are generally rude. We all get through the order, I punch it in, bring more drinks (becase you know, one just isn't enough for each of the three kids) and actually get past The "L" to pour coffee and make a round of it.
The pastor joins. I recognize her from the Lutheran church. She is a little odd, but most pastors are, so I think nothing of it. She is joined by a man of about the same age and same oddity. THEY pull table #3 up to The "L" and extend the leg of the "L".
I am stunned. WHO would do this? Who would allow it? Who.... would ever think this was okay? I am an instant blowfish of anger, but no one sees and so I continue because no one cares about this rudeness. I make them scoot the table over less than six inches because they are starting to block traffic and I am on an anger/power trip. I am hoping someone comes over and tells me they can't do that.
My puffer deflates. Mainly because I have no choice. I regain my humanity. I take the newcomers' orders. But not without some getting some snide comment about the hollandaise sauce that I just, quite frankly, don't get.
I walk away feeling like their odd behavior was meant to be smoothly humourous. But it's not. It's weird. It's stupid. It doesn't even make sense. Especially when it took them sooooo long to close their menus. It is particularly disconcerting for a gal like me who usually gets the odd little reasons people do a million odd things. I also walk away wondering what in the hell just happened and why people who become men and women of the cloth somehow become licensed to keep behaving in their poorly developed social skills, as though they are superior in their retarded differences.
It does not help that I was hungover.
I bring out the food. I've made a critical error. The grandma, who'd I'd been fighting to understand amongst the crowd, wanted fish. Not chicken. I promise to fix it, go to the kitchen for the second time in twenty minutes, and apologize profusely to the cooks, but my fuse is short and my explanation turns into incoherent rambling. My eye is twitching, non-existent bobbi pins are popping loose, steam rolls out of my ears. My boss (one of them, his wife is my other boss), the main chef, comes swooping in out of nowhere, swoops my plate out of my hand, and assures me he will fix it. I am momentarily rescued. I go back out and explain apologetically to the grandmother that her fish will be ready soon. She smiles. I almost miss it.
They don't leave a tip.
Two pastors walk into a bar...
Okay, they really walk into the restaurant with another patron and sit down in K's section. K wants to trade me tables. She knows a set of customers who had just sat down in my section. I oblige. I don't mind. I find out later that one of them is allegedly the one who sticks the gum under the tables and she doesn't want to deal with them. I have only dealt with the one once or twice and been put off by his classless ignorance, but the gum-sticker is not only the other pastor, but my child's friend's dad!
I think about this every time I go around with coffee or bring them food, but I forget to check the table after they leave; and the other pastor comments on the dirtiness of my shirt with humourless blatancy and, in my opinion, absolute gall. Especially considering it wasn't all that dirty, had been clean that morning, and didn't even compare to the one I'd worn the day before, which had two days' stain on the boob. To which I respond by pausing the coffee pour, looking at him in the eyes with fire in my own, and say to him,
"How dare you!"
They don't tip, either.