happy birthday, EvilAgent!

Since it’s Evil Agent’s birthday, I figured this a good time to post this draft from December.

Husband, Evil and I were at brunch at our favorite local restaurant. The ubiquitous tin ceilings in most old buildings in our neighborhood are pretty, but they contribute to some loud dining adventures when the house is full.

Evil was having hot tea. There was a pot of hot water and a container of unopened tea bags on our table.

Evil asked for more hot water and the waiter asked if she wanted a new tea bag. She said no and gestured at the teabag already in her teacup, so when he brought the hot water he took the container of unopened tea bags to another table. The noise level at the restaurant was very high and clearly Evil and the Waiter misunderstood one another, because she couldn’t understand why he’d taken the teabags.

I thought she was looking for her hot water, which was sitting right in front of her. So now I was also confused, because I was apparently the only one who heard her original exchange with the waiter clearly.

The manager was passing by and stopped to see why Evil looked distressed.

This next part was only funny to me.

Evil told the manager that the waiter took her tea bag away, but she kept gesturing at the teabag in her teacup. He politely pointed out that she had a teabag. She kept pointing and saying, “He took it away.”

Then there was a prolonged exchange where I was trying to clarify why the tea was gone, Evil was asking for a tea bag, the manager were pointing at the tea bag, and the people at the next table were watching us all like we were a bit crazy.

Husband turned his attention to ordering a beer. Can you blame him?

The manager was very patient and, instead of picking up the teabag and aggressively pointing out she had a teabag, he asked questions until he found out what exactly she wanted. Evil didn’t raise her voice or shoot anyone and it was all resolved quickly when the manager gave Evil a new tea bag.

The manager, unfortunately, chewed the waiter out but I stopped back in later and apologized on our behalf and everyone lived happily ever after. (We also left a big tip).

The lesson here is that misunderstandings happen and that exercising a little patience is better than immediately getting angry or behaving rudely or defensively. Or maybe the lesson is that we should have ordered mimosas.

I’m not really sure why I concluded this post with a lesson – I don’t remember how I intended to introduce it now, it’s been too long. Since I can’t remember what the point of the post was going to be, I’m going to semi-pointlessly embed the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Although it’s EvilAgent’s birthday, it’s probably everyone else’s unbirthday, so let’s all celebrate together, with tea!

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  • Reservoir Carl

    There must be an explanation; possibly a nefarious Tea Party conspiracy to deny tea bags to progressives.

  • evilagent

    Ah, my very own post and it includes all the important parts of civilization: tea, the importance of manners and notice of my birthday!

  • rebecca

    Indeed. I suspect he’s either spent a long time in hospitality management or he has training dealing with the difficult people because he had excellent problem-solving skills. I honestly wouldn’t have been as patient with us.

  • Alan

    I’ve been in the food service industry a long time and even though it’s galling when a customer tells a server one thing and then lies to the manager, it’s a business that relies on repeat customers and the customer must always be right.In this case it seems as though your friend was simply slow or impaired in some way and I applaud the manager for making things right for you and applaud you for leaving a generous tip to compensate for the waiter’s troubles.Though the GM may treat the customer as “always right” waiters remember the people who behave disagreeably (on purpose) or complain that they didn’t like the waiters recommendations or didn’t like the music playing or didn’t like the breadbasket or etc etc etc etc as an excuse not to tip at all and then return to our establishment as though nothing has ever occurred and expect the same high level of service.The same customers will do this again and again once they learn that the manager is quick to chastise waiters,they love the sense of power they get.As it’s now your unbirthday,Evil,I wish you a merry one.I’ll also add that in my many years serving in London and then here in Boston it’s rare for a customer to want a new teabag until it’s been used 2-3 times so in the future I’d suggest taking two teabags out of the holder from the start and setting the second on the table.It will look a tad OCD but save you these interactions in the future.Bon appetite!

  • evilagent

    Thanks for the b-day wishes, Alan. The narrative of the events aren’t as I remember them, but I chalk it up to the blogger’s artistic license.

  • rebecca

    Shouldn’t be any artistic license- I wrote it down less than an hour after lunch I just didn’t post it til this week. I *could* have taken license, though, bwahahaha!

    I should emphasize that Evil clearly couldn’t hear a thing at brunch that day due to the acoustics, no one was trying to be difficult.

    I should also add that I stopped back in and chatted with the waiter because I happened to be passing by and was still a bit embarrassed by the dust-up, but it wasn’t really any big deal and I only really stopped back in because we go there a lot and I wanted to make sure we hadn’t caused a problem. It really wasn’t a big deal.

    Also, I think EvilAgent had used that tea bag a few times already, just for the record. She’d used the whole pot of hot water, anyway, which serves 2 I think.

    Your thoughts are interesting on difficult customers, Alan. I’d never survive as a waiter.