Monday, July 31, 2006

To Crank out a Blog, Be Cranky

To be cranky, and not sound whiny is a challenge, so here goes:

Yesterday, Mrs CPB and I met another ten members of our family at a local outlet of a national restaurant chain. No, no anonymity here for that sad, sad food emporium, it was the Olive Garden in our local mall parking lot. Now, many of this group actually LIKE the Olive Garden's food. Not Moi! However, to meet with so many members of our great family, I will go and eat anywhere. (Well, not McDonalds, but the family does not know that.)

The Olive Garden's slogan is: "When you're here, you're family." My family is crazy enough. I don't want to be part of a family that thinks you are invisible, even though you are occupying a large portion of their restaurant. We waited and waited for our orders to be taken. We waited and waited for them to arrive. One of us had ordered an appetizer. It arrived and had to be sent back TWICE, because their family didn't listen to our family.

They brought bowls of salad and baskets of bread sticks and put a salad plate in front of each of us. None of us had ordered lunch yet. If you eat ANY of that salad, you have chosen salad off the menu. I tried to get soup with my pizza. Menu reads soup or salad with pizza. No go. Waitress said you have salad. "I did not order salad," I replied. "You have salad in front of you," she said. "Soup is another $4.95."

I would have walked out in any other circumstance, but I love my family, and I will NEVER visit theirs again.

So lunch progresses at a snail's pace. We get food. "Do you want more shredded cheese on your pizza," their family member asks me. "No, I said." I got it anyway. Some of our family order dessert. Only some of our family get dessert. Their family found some of ours, again, invisible. When it was check time, our family was asked if they still wanted their desserts. "NO."

We split the check. That caused even more delay than ordering lunch. Two hours after we were seated we left. There were still people waiting to be seated. Why they would wait was beyond me. I was really tempted to make a scene and tell those in the queues:

Their family will ignore your family as long as they can. They will think you are invisible; they will not hear your food order; they will delay bringing food as long as they can; they will not get it right.

But I didn't. I love my family and will not embarrass them. But, damn, it would have been so much fun!

And the food. Did I mention the food? Adequate at best. I don't believe any cook there makes a sauce. Sauces must arrive in the middle of the night and fall off the back of a truck. You know the kind: boil it in a bag and pour it over the pasta. Since they have had the same soup for years, same quality, same consistency, it must be made centrally in some factory to industrial standards and shipped to each Olive Garden family.

Also, y'all know that in any of these chain, food slinging, over-priced, under staffed places, parties over a certain number WILL AUTOMATICALLY HAVE A GRATUITY OF 15-20% ADDED TO THE BILL. This assures bad service, bad food, and bad attitude. Delays in service matter not. Now some patrons may add a further tip on their check. In this instance, NONE did.

Not true. I left a nickel in the middle of the table. I doubt that their family even noticed.

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