in which a restaurant server protects my alone time and i am very grateful

One day last week, I drove from Vancouver to Tacoma. It was raining the whole way, visibility was poor, and I had car trouble. It wasn’t horrendous, but it was stressful. Then that night, I attended a program. 

The following day, before beginning a full day of programming, I decided to treat myself to a nice breakfast. So far on the trip I had been eating very light breakfasts in my room with food I had with me, and was looking forward to eggs, bacon, potatoes, the whole deal.

As I walked into the hotel restaurant, the server approached me and asked, “Are you from Canada?” I was taken aback. She said, “The couple over there wants to know if you want to join them for breakfast.” In an almost empty restaurant, a senior couple was furiously waving hello.

Oh, no. No no no.

I reluctantly walked over to their table. “I guess you are here for the conference?”

The server mouthed silently to me: “I’m sorry!” I tried silently to convey “not your fault”.

So how did these people know I was Canadian? The previous night, I attended the conference kick-off event: a historian interviewed two authors of historical fiction that take place in the Pacific Northwest. One of the authors was Jess Walter, who wrote The Cold Millions – the first book my labour book club read!

I had planned to ask Jess Walter a question, somethng that our group had discussed. I was called on first, and identified myself as a librarian, union, here from Canada, and facilitating a labour book club. (Apparently this made me a bit of a celebrity! Throughout the conference, people were greeting me and asking about the LBC.)

So there I am at breakfast, pounced on before I sit down. I said politely, “I’m not very social in the morning.”

The woman said, “That’s fine, you don’t have to be!” 

Then the two of them asked me questions for the entire length of breakfast. When they weren’t forcing me to speak, they were chattering nonstop.

The woman told me that this annual conference is held in three locations on a rotating basis: Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. The Canadian trustee has resigned, and they are looking for a replacement. "There’s nothing to it, it’s not much work at all.” Uh-huh.

Here comes the kicker.

The trustees are responsible for organizing the events. I would be the only Canadian trustee, so it would my job to organize a conference! This is the time I'm attending an event from this group -- previously I didn't know they existed -- and she is asking me to organize a conference! By myself! And telling me it’s not much work! This is what my mother would call chutzpah.

She told me that after the conference, the group was having its AGM and elections. I nodded politely, and said nothing. At some point I may have said, “I work full-time and am active in my union. I’m not looking for anything else to do.” But I doubt she was listening.

Fast-forward to the following morning. I tried again to have my quiet breakfast. The same server was there and she rushed over to me. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know what else to do!” 

She didn’t need to explain. I assured her: “It wasn’t your fault. What else could you do?”

She said, “I felt so bad for you! I heard you say ‘I’m not very social in the morning,’ and she said ‘You don’t have to be’ – then talked nonstop! Oh my god, I’m so sorry!”

She said she would seat me where no one could see me, and gave me a lovely table, near a window with a view. She was still apologizing when she suddenly looked past me and said, “They’re here! Don’t worry, I’m on it!” Then she rushed off.

A few minutes later she returned. “I seated them where they can’t see you. There’s no way I’m letting them do this to you again! You deserve a quiet breakfast. Don't worry, I will protect you.”

Refilling my coffee, she said, “I felt so bad yesterday. I’m never letting anyone ruining someone’s alone time again.”

She fussed over me and made sure that every little thing about my breakfast was perfect. 

It was so sweet.

While she was in the kitchen, I left her a ridiculously large tip and a scribbled thank you note. Then I walked quickly out of the restaurant with my head down.


Amy said...

Some people are SO stupid. If that had been me, I would have said, "I'm really sorry, but I have some work to do this morning and cannot join you." I am sure I would have pissed them off, but who cares? I'd never see them again anyway. You've been in Canada too long---you're getting too polite!! :)

laura k said...

You've been in Canada too long---you're getting too polite!! :)

That's for sure! New York Laura would not have done that! :)

However, this was the morning *before* the conference. I saw them many times throughout the day.

Also, it all happened very quickly. As ambushes do.

Amy said...

Uch, well, at least the server saved you the next morning! Yay for restaurant workers!

laura k said...