Saturday. 5:30pm. The phone rings.
“Hello, The Bistro, how may I help you?”
“I want a reservation at 7:30.” a gruff cell distorted voice barks.
“How many in your party?” I reply sweetly.
“Two.” I can hear car horns honking in the background
“Let me see what’s open sir, one moment.”
“I want the table in the window. I’m a friend of the owner.” he says. (The reader will note the absence of the word please)
This guy is probably shit out of luck. The odds of getting a reservation at this late hour are slim to none. His only hope is a last minute cancellation. I look at the reservation slots on the computer screen.
There, shimmering like an oasis in the desert, is an opening for the best table in the house at the H-Hour of restaurants the world over, 7:30 pm. This guy is lucky. My finger moves toward the screen to begin entering his information.
“Hurry up I haven’t got all day.” the man snaps.
My finger stops in midair.
Getting in touch with my inner asshole I say, “I am terribly sorry sir but we have no tables available at that time.”
“Whadyya mean it’s not available?” the man practically screams
“The table has already been reserved. I’m sorry.”
“Well move them and give it to me.” the prick says huffily.
“I cannot do that sir. Perhaps you would like a reservation at ten o’clock. That’s the next available opening.”
“Put the owner on the phone right now.” the man yells.
“I am sorry but he is indisposed at the moment.” I reply.
“Give me his cell phone number then.”
“I’m so sorry but I am not allowed to give out that number.” I say unctuously.
“Listen I am a good friend of Flavio. Put him on the phone.”
The owner’s name is Fluvio. Some friend.
“Like I said he can’t come to the phone right now. Since you are his friend I am sure you won’t mind me telling you the correct way to say his name. F-L-U-V-I-O.”
The man abruptly hangs up.
A few minutes later a very young man walks in the door holding some flowers. He wants to take his girlfriend on their first real “grown up” date. He asks if we have a table. He is polite, says please, and man he looks sooo nervous.
“How’s 7:30?” I ask smiling.
“That would be perfect.”
“I’ll put you in the window. Very romantic sir.” I say with a wink.
“That’s very cool thanks.” he replies gratefully.
Later they come in holding hands. She is thrilled with the flowers and the table. They order the cheapest entrees and suck down Cokes all night. They smile happily, talk in hushed tones, and look only at each other. I was the waiter. The tip was pretty bad. On the way out the girl slips her hand into the boy’s back pocket. Soon they are kissing on the street corner.
I watch them as I collect my meager tip. I am happy. Tonight this young couple will be making sweet love while the asshole on the cell phone explains to his wife why they are eating pizza.
All is right with the world.