I Say Tomato, You Say Miserable Old Man

, , , , | Right | April 6, 2020

(My elderly dad recently had emergency surgery after a fall and has a clinic appointment this morning. Because the injury is to his arm, he needs me to drive him, and the appointment takes rather longer than expected, so when he gets out, I comment that I am hungry. Dad suggests a sit-down restaurant across the interstate, while I want to go to a less expensive and more comfortable burger joint in the same commercial center as his clinic. But his diet restricts him from eating red meat, and since he obeys his doctors when it means he gets his way, I take him to the restaurant of his choice.

At the restaurant, he orders a salad minus tomatoes, with the dressing on the side — also part of said dietary restrictions. The waitress notes his modifications, saying them as she writes them down. I can see her at the order station and she takes extra time putting the order in, so I know she got the modifications into the computer. When the order comes after only a few minutes, though, his salad is heavy with tomatoes and dressing. It is the middle of lunch rush, so the waitress steps away quickly after setting our food down.)

Dad: “My salad wasn’t supposed to have tomatoes. She screwed up.”

Me: “Send it back, then.”

Dad: “No, they’ll just pick ’em out. I don’t want them picking them out; I want a salad without them.”

(He is picking the tomatoes out himself, at this point.)

Me: “Tell them you’re allergic. Then they will have to remake the salad.”

Dad: “No, I’ll just reduce her tip.”

Me: “You do realize it’s the cook’s fault, not hers, right? She got the order right. It’s the cook who got it wrong.”

(He doesn’t answer, which he only does when he knows he’s wrong but won’t admit it.)

Me: “No, you’d rather be miserable about it.”

(A few minutes later, the waitress returns to check on us. I, of course, have my mouth full.)

Waitress: “Is everything great, here?”

Me: *nodding emphatically, as I am quite enjoying my meal*

Dad: *snarling* “No!”

Waitress: “I’m sorry, what— Oh, you have tomatoes in your salad, and you didn’t want them.”

Dad: “There weren’t supposed to be tomatoes, and the dressing was supposed to be on the side.”

Waitress: “I’m so sorry, sir. Would you like me to take that back and have them remake it?”

Dad: “No. I just wanted you to know that it’s wrong.”

Waitress: “I’m very sorry, sir.”

(She goes on with her work as the restaurant is getting even busier.)

Me: “Why did you bother telling her, then?”

Dad: “So that she knows why she’s getting a small tip.”

Me: “It’s not her fault. The cook got it wrong, and she remembered that you asked for no tomatoes. She tried to fix it for you, but you wouldn’t let her.”

Dad: *searching for excuses, at this point* “Well, I didn’t want to be here for another half hour.”

(The waitress continued to be polite to us throughout the rest of our stay, and I tried once more to remind him that it wasn’t her fault. But he gave her a $2 tip, which is far less than she deserved for being so polite to him despite his nastiness. I grabbed the receipt with the survey information on the bottom and submitted a survey, mentioning her by name and complimenting her on her composure. I hope she sees it, and if you’re out there reading this, I am so sorry for my father’s behavior. I hope he didn’t ruin the rest of your day!)

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