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It Is An Ex-Diner, Bereft Of Life!

, , , , , , | Working | September 14, 2018

(I just got out of an examination center where I have done fine on a badly-organized test for a down-and-dirty month-long tax law training. I have to mark the end of this nightmare. The sun is shining; I am free. Today, nothing is important. There are some establishments around, but I choose my old crash-place, a national chain diner in a big station. From the entrance, I can tell something is wrong. The diner is empty, but tables are dirty and there are wrapping papers on the floor. Behind the till is a waitress — a youngster I have never seen before. None of the pastries I came for are on display. But I see a promotion: “CHOUQUETTE. FIVE FOR [tiny price]!”)

Waitress: “Hi! What can I bring for you?”

Me: “I’ll take a coffee.”

Waitress: “To take away?”

Me: “I’ll drink it here. Could you tell me what a chouquette is?

(The waitress freezes with a blank stare.)

Me: “Let’s start with a coffee.”

Waitress: “To take away?”

Me: “I’ll drink it here.”

(Another unknown youngster wearing the manager attire comes out of the kitchen. The waitress jumps at this providential life belt.)

Waitress: “What is a chouquette?”

Manager: *not paying attention* “It’s [tiny price].”

Me: “This is the ‘how much.’ I want to know the ‘what.’”

(The manager freezes as if a statue has just asked him the sphinx enigma, and walks away without a word.)

Me: *to the waitress* “Never mind. What is this tart?”

Waitress: *fighting to not freeze again* “I don’t know. Banana, maybe.”

Me: *with a friendly smile* “You don’t know your products, do you? Are you sure you work here?”

Waitress: “I am new. Customers don’t ask, usually.”

Me: “New, like… today?”

Waitress: “Three days.”

Manager: *getting out of the kitchen* “It is a cookie with sugar pearls!”

Me: “The chouquette? I’ll pass. What is in this tart?”

Waitress: “Banana!”

Manager: *unsure* “Rice cream?”

Me: *to relieve their pain* “I’ll take this.”

Waitress: “I’ll prepare your coffee.”

Manager: “To take away?”

Me: “No.”

(Stunned, the manager went away silently again. I paid with a smile, took my tray to the only clean table I could find, and started to meditate on this comedy show. Monty Python’s Flying Circus would have a sketch like this one. Another waitress — without a uniform — came out of the kitchen. She crossed the room, stepping on the paper wraps, searching in vain for a clean table, and sat with her drink on the least dirty table, texting on her mobile. They didn’t start to clean the room before midday, when customers rushed. That is when they started another comedy show, involving a key and a till cabinet containing one of their cash drawers. As far as I know, the key is still stuck in the cabinet door, on the customer side of the till. When I left, the wrapping papers were still littering the floor. Warning, diner workers: not all customers are exhilarated Monty Python fans.)

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