This is one of those ‘I wish someone was with me’ stories, but since no one was there with me, I’m going to share it with you.
My Birthday is this month and the other day, I received an e-mail coupon from “Name withheld” ‘s Pizza, a local pizza place for a free Birthday Entree (see below). I mean, they’re known as a pizza place and pizza is a part of their name (see the mostly grayed out logo in the upper right of the coupon, I put a red circle around the word pizza in the logo). I’m looking forward to some free pizza for my birthday. That is, until I read the disclaimer and get to the last line “Not valid on pizza.” (Once again, I circled it in red near the center of the coupon).
So already I think this is a bad deal…But does this stop me from getting a free meal? Uh-uh, No, no, no, no, no. So I go in last night, a little later than the dinner rush because I’m by myself and don’t want to deal with the wait.
I get there and the host greets me and asks how many, I say one, he says go ahead and sit anywhere you want. I choose an area with not too many people and they all look like they’re near the end of their time in the restaurant. The host brings my menu and says my server will be right with me. Standard later in the evening restaurant stuff.
My server comes to the table and gets my drink order (a Mountain Dew, I know you were dying to know that), then gives me a minute to look over the menu. My server comes back and I order my entree.
“Would you like Soup or Salad?”
“Ah”, I think to myself, “This is better than I first thought it would be.”
“What’s the soup?”
“There’s Minestrone, French Onion or Chicken Tortilla.”
Not being one to rush into a decision, I pause for a few seconds.
“I think I’ll have the chicken tortilla.”
And off my server goes to put in my order and get my soup. My server returns pretty quickly with my cup of soup and a packet of crackers on the saucer, which strikes me as odd, but I don’t give it much thought.
Then I taste the soup and it’s pretty good and that’s when I notice there are no tortilla strips in the soup. Maybe they were put in the bottom of the cup before the soup, so I dig in the cup to the point that I’m practically shaving off ceramic I’m scraping the cup so hard and still, no tortillas. They must have run out of tortilla strips, that’s why they gave me the crackers. So I wait for my server to come back.
“How was the soup?”
“It was good…” And my server was gone with the cup before I could start the next sentence only to return almost immediately with a new table setting for my entrée. “But I have a question about the soup. Shouldn’t it have had some tortilla with it?”
“Oh, that’s just the name. I told them we should probably change it to chicken enchilada soup or something like that.”
Now I start to see a pattern. Just because it’s in the name, that doesn’t mean I’m going to get it. And that’s when it hits me. This could be the perfect night. The night when everything was so wrong it was right. By this time everyone on my side of the dining room was gone, so the only way I could see, or hear anyone was if they were walking toward me and I see their reflection in the windows across from me or I get up and walk to the other part of the restaurant. I’m all by myself, literally and figuratively. But I’m also excited. I mean the anticipation is building. You see, I’m hoping that there’s something essential missing from my entrée. In fact, I know there’s something missing and with no one around me, the anticipation is just magnified. It’s to the point that I’m so excited that time seems to stop because there’s no way it took as long as it seemed for that entrée to get to me. And just when it was to the point that I was exactly like every Wolf you’ve ever seen in a cartoon with a knife in one hand, a fork in the other, the napkin tucked into his collar, mouth wide open with his tongue lolling out one side and drooling up a storm that out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. The reflection of the dish in the hand of my server. There was no one else that it could be for. I saw my server turn the corner and I knew that dish was for me and I knew that it was missing something, I KNEW it!
My server put that dish down in front of me and you know what? You know WHAT?!
There was both chicken AND parmesan in my Chicken Parmesan.
My heart sank. This had the promise to be one of my top five story of stories. I had the terrible trifecta in my grasp and it slipped through my fingers. I was beyond disappointed.
And the food? Well, the food was okay, it was good. Not as good as their…pizza.
Which is what they’re known for. And I couldn’t have.
For my Free Birthday entrée…
…Because I’m a valued customer.
Alex, I’d like clues for 1000.
One last thing. My server got a little more than 25% tip on what the bill would have been if the entrée hadn’t been free. Hey, good personal service is still good service. And another part of the reason was for being able to say “Oh, that’s just the name.” with a straight face.