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Carpeted With Apologies

, , , , , , , , , | Right | June 2, 2022

I am working the front counter at a sushi restaurant. It’s getting pretty late and we have a full house. At this particular location, the guests will come to the front register to pay for their meals.

A group that has been situated at one of our tables — three young men and a woman — approaches the counter. I smile at them as they arrive and the first one hands me their bill and card.

“How was everything?” I ask cheerily as I finish checking out one individual and move to the next.

Customer #1: “Great!”

Customer #2: “Good, thanks.”

Customer #3: “Good.”

Customer #4: “Does the carpet match the drapes?”

There is a silence as I stare in absolute shock at the man who spoke. His friend, a large local man, throws his billfold and credit card at me and wrangles his friend out of the restaurant by the back of his collar with repeated apologies.

Once they are gone, the three remaining customers ask if I’m okay, apologize to me numerous times, and pay out their tabs. They all cycle outside and have a group conversation beyond our windows as I stand there, still in relative confusion as to what happened.

Eventually, the large man comes back in to retrieve his card, which I have processed.

Customer #1: “I am so sorry about that.”

Me: “I, umm, it’s okay.”

Customer #1: “He works in construction, and apparently, someone on his jobsite told him that ‘Does the carpet match the drapes?’ is a response to someone asking how things were going.”

Me: “He’s never heard the term before?”

He shakes his head.

Customer #1: “Apparently not. He’s not the best wordsmith out of us; I genuinely believe that he would not have said that had he known the true implications of the phrase.”

Me: “I see. Well, no harm done.”

Customer #1: “He wants to come back in and apologize if you are cool with that.”

Me: “Sure.”

The man taps on the window of the shop, attracting the attention of his friends, and the young man that created the problem came back in.

Customer #4: “I am sooooooo sorry. I didn’t know.”

Me: “It’s all right. What did you think that meant?”

Customer #4: “When we do work, interiors are always last. I was told by someone I was working with that the phrase is the same thing as saying, ‘Everything went well,’ because the carpets and drapes are installed.”

Me: “I see.”

The larger boy shook his head, burying his face in his hands.

The group ended up leaving me a $37 tip and became regulars of the location.

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