Stacking Up The Minutes Until The Check Comes

, , , , , , | Working | June 19, 2020

My boyfriend and I go out to eat one night. We are seated next to a wait stand, where wait staff can get trays for checks or pens or anything else they need.

After finishing our meal, our waitress removes our dishes and we wait for her to bring the check. And we wait. And wait. The wait staff all seem to be rearranging part of the restaurant, possibly for a large party later, but no one is paying any attention to us. We try multiple times to get the staff’s attention, but no one will even look our way. We think about dine-and-dashing, but we’ve both waited tables before and are inclined to be forgiving of wait staff screwups.

But after waiting for fifteen minutes for someone to notice that we have no food and are just sitting there, we get bored. Because we are in no hurry, and because we are easily amused, we grab the entire stack of check trays from the wait stand next to us — maybe seven trays –and start trying to build towers with them.

For the record, they don’t work well for tower-building.

After several minutes of this, one of the wait staff notices the noise coming from our table and comes over to investigate.

Waitress: “Um… what are you doing?”

Boyfriend: “Playing with the check trays.”

Waitress: “Why?”

Me: “Because we’ve been waiting for our check for twenty minutes. Could you find our waiter and ask him to get it for us, please?”

Waitress: “Sure.”

The waitress then takes the stack of check trays we’ve been playing with and puts them back on the wait stand — still within easy reach of us — and walks away. After waiting another five minutes for the check, we start playing with them again. We see the waitress who took them away from us look over at us, say something urgently to another member of the wait staff, and then come back over to us.

Waitress: “You can’t play with these.”

Boyfriend: “We’d be glad to stop playing with them, just as soon as we’ve settled our bill.”

Waitress: “…”

The waitress removed the check trays again and this time placed them out of our reach. Thirty seconds later, another waiter dropped off our check and waited while I got out my card to pay. Two minutes later, I signed the check and we left.


This story has been included in our June 2020 roundup as one of that month’s most memorable stories!

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