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The Pain In Spain Is Caused By The Diners

, , , | Right | January 13, 2021

We’re eating dinner as a family at a grill located on the beach while on vacation in Ibiza. We had to make our reservation on the first day of our vacation because it’s such a lovely and in-demand restaurant.

We have two children under the age of four, so we ask for a reservation at 6:00 pm, their first dinner service. We arrive early so we can pick a seat near the front of the terrace. Everything is going well, the food is excellent, and the children are well-behaved.

At 7:30-ish, a “lovely” middle-aged couple appears.

Female Customer: “We want a seat on the terrace!”

Hostess: “We don’t have any seating on the terrace at this time, but our next seating is in an hour. We will be more than happy to seat you then.”

Female Customer: “But we had a reservation! We should be able to sit wherever we want!”

Hostess: “Your reservation was at 6:30 pm. Unfortunately, because you arrived very late, all of the tables on the terrace are occupied at this time.”

Female Customer: “Why can’t I sit there?!”

She points to an empty table on the other side of the terrace.

Hostess: “Ma’am, that table does not belong to this restaurant. It belongs to the cafe next door. We can’t serve you if you’re sitting there.”

Female Customer: “I can’t believe this! I had a reservation. How dare you give away our table?!”

Hostess: “We operate on a first-come-first-served basis, even for reservations—”

Female Customer: *Interrupting* “I want the manager! You’re useless!”

The husband speaks up, but instead of being embarrassed by his wife’s shouting and hysterics, he seems to be egging her on.

Male Customer: “Exactly, dear. Such poor service.”

The hostess leaves, and the woman pulls out the stool from behind the hostess stand and sits down! She is in the way so the poor hostess cannot do her job. The hostess greets two more tables, who are more than happy to sit inside, but the couple interrupts her to heckle her. A few minutes later, the manager arrives.

Manager: “What seems to be the problem?”

Female Customer: “We had a reservation—”

Manager: “My hostess tells me that you were an hour late to arrive.”

Female Customer: “You should have saved our table!”

Manager: “You didn’t arrive. We can seat you at 8:30 pm if you still wish to eat. Our bar is open, so you’re more than welcome to sit there until your table is ready—”

Female Customer: “I want free drinks!”

Manager: “I’m not going to give you free drinks because you arrived late. I am willing to seat you but—”

Female Customer: “We’ve been sitting here for half an hour!”

Manager: “There is half an hour until the next seating. Please come back later. You are bothering other diners.”

Female Customer: “I don’t appreciate your tone. You’re very aggressive!”

At this point, the woman has interrupted everything the manager has tried to say and talked over her. The fact that the manager is still willing to seat her at all is a marvel to me!

Manager: “I’m not dealing with this anymore. You’ve harassed all of my servers and belittled my hostess. If you still want to eat here, fine. But you need to apologize to everyone that you’ve insulted. It’s their choice if they want to serve you.”

Female Customer: “You’ll seat me and my husband, now!”

Manager: “That’s it. Get out.”

Female Customer: “That table is free! That family just left! We’re going to sit there.”

The woman pulled her husband, who was still encouraging her behaviour, over to the dirty table and sat down. She waited for the servers to clear the table and tried to order a drink. No one would make eye contact with her. After several minutes, the police arrived and she was escorted out.

I made sure to leave a large tip. I think the staff handled the situation well, though I would have kicked her out a lot sooner!

This story is part of our Best Of January 2021 roundup!

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A Olive And Breathe…

, , | Right | January 9, 2021

I work at a bar that specializes in beer, and we sell some simple food: chips for 1€ and chips with olives for 2€. A completely sober patron comes and asks for two pints and chips.

Me: “Will that be chips or chips with olives?”

Patron: “What’s the difference?”

Me: “Just chips are 1€; it’s 2€ with the olives.”

Patron: “Yeah, but what’s the difference?”

Me: “I don’t know what to tell you, man. One plate has olives; the other one doesn’t.”

Patron: “I don’t understand.”

With an internal facepalm, I give him the two pints and a plate of just chips.

Me: “That will be 4€, please.”

The patron opened his mouth as if to say something but saw I was already doing something else and just dropped the money on the bar and left.

Thanks For Sleeping On It, I Guess

, , , , , | Working | January 7, 2021

In 2018, as a high school graduation gift, I go on a solo trip to Spain and Portugal. During the Madrid leg of the trip, I have booked a room at a hotel for four days, with the plan to take a train on the fourth day to leave for Seville. On the evening of the second day, I have this interaction.

Receptionist: “Good evening. How was your last day here in Madrid?”

Me: “It was great, thank you… Wait, last day? I still have two more days.”

Receptionist: “Are you sure? You appear to have booked for two days only; you’ll have to leave tomorrow.”

Me: “Did I? I’m pretty sure I booked for four nights, not two.”

Receptionist: *Smugly* “Well, I surely didn’t mess up writing it down, so…”

Me: *Trying to keep calm* “Are you absolutely, 100% sure? Can’t you double-check?”

Receptionist: “I’m certain beyond doubt and I won’t check again. So, prepare to check out tomorrow.”

I’m worried and kind of scared. I can’t change my train’s reservation, and even if I could, there is no guarantee the hotel in Seville will have a room available, anyway. But, keeping my calm, I go to my room and pack up hurriedly. After a night of troubled sleep, I go on a hunt for a new place to stay for two nights, taking me the entire morning searching the Internet and making physical visits, leaving me almost one hundred euros poorer than anticipated. The same day, in the evening, I receive a call.

Receptionist: *Sheepish* “Hello? Are we talking to Mr. [My Name]?”

Me: “Yes, what is it now?”

Receptionist: “Turns out, you did book for four days… I mixed up the room numbers. My manager asked me if you’d like a refund for the inconvenience, or if you want your room back.” 

Me: *Barely suppressing my rage* “I’d like to have a refund; I’m certainly not going back after nearly spending 100€ for a new place to sleep in.”

I did get my refund eventually, though I definitely noted the receptionist’s behaviour in the review for the hotel.

Clear Some Space For Her Emotional Baggage

, , | Right | January 1, 2021

I work in a children’s clothing store near the outskirts of the city. In September, customers come like a massive river, flooding everything, and we can barely get any cleaning and tidying done since we are only four people working.

A woman comes in with her daughter and starts leaving all her clothes on the socks section, covering all of them. We have a table where people can leave their stuff and see if it fits the kids or their tastes, and it’s full at the time, but I can’t let her put her stuff there like that, so I go to talk to her.

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am, but you can’t leave your stuff there. Other people will not be able to grab the socks.”

Customer: “But the table is full; I don’t have anywhere to put it.”

Me: “You can grab one of the big bags next to the door if you want, or I can try to make you space on the table.”

The woman looks at me like I’ve annoyed her, and she doesn’t answer. She takes her daughter by the hand after a mean look and disappears down one of the aisles. After a while, I am tidying up one of the aisles when the woman suddenly comes over to me.

Customer: *Screaming* “EXCUSE ME! Can you make me some room on the table, please?!

I was utterly confused by her reaction, but I said yes and I did it. She answered me with an angry, “THANK YOU!” and I left to do my job. When she went to pay for her clothes, she started ranting to my coworkers about how bad a store clerk I was and that I should be fired.

My coworkers, who know me well, didn’t trust her, and they even told me that she was actually angry with her husband for not coming to the store with her, so she started venting her frustration with me.

Either way, she never returned to our store after that.

A Small Gift From Across The Sea

, , , , , | Related | October 19, 2020

This takes place during the prehistoric days before a global health crisis. I’m an American ex-pat living in Barcelona, about ten years after high school graduation. Because I can’t afford to go home every year, I get into the habit of having a tourist day on my birthday.

The week before my birthday, my mom calls me to chat. Near the end of the talk, she casually asks where I’m planning to go for my birthday. I mention the famous park I’m going to, designed by an extremely Modernist architect. We say our goodbyes.

On my birthday, I’m walking around the park at noon. Near the museum, I see a group of teenagers and an adult chaperone. As I go into the building, I hear their accent — American, from the Midwest, like me. That’s not that unusual, since the park is a big tourist area. I glance up and see the chaperone’s face. She looks slightly familiar, so I focus a little harder. I think I recognize her and I step closer.

Me: “Excuse me. I know this sounds odd, but is that a Midwestern accent I hear? I grew up in Wisconsin.”

Chaperone: “Yes! We’re actually from Wisconsin, too. These kids are from my Spanish club. We take a trip to Spain every couple of years. When were you last home?”

Me: “A couple of years ago. Otherwise, I’ve been mainly here since graduation, ten years ago. Wait a second… Do you teach at [My Old High School]?”

Chaperone: *With a smirk* “I do…”

Me: “[Chaperone]?!”

We laugh and share a quick hug.

Chaperone: “There’s another face you might recognize.” 

We meander over to a display where a young teen girl is standing. The girl hears us and turns around, a giant grin on her face.

Me: “[NIECE]?!”

We hug tight, and then I walk around the park with them, catching up with my niece. I get permission from her teacher to kidnap her for supper. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.

I called my mom the next day, and the first words out of her mouth were, “Were you surprised?” The brats in my family had this set up for weeks!

This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

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