Yesterday I planned to enjoy one of my favourite hobbies, eating out alone..
I entered the all you can eat buffet, with the satisfied knowledge that I could consume copious amounts, and would most certainly get my monies worth. All ten euro of it! Naturally of course, I had also brought small lunch boxes to meal prep for the rest of the week. I picked a seat and table as far away as possible from the general public, looking forward to luxuriate in the silence, and munch morosely on my chow mein..
I had already endured so much. A plethora of pestilent toddlers. Children clambering upon tables, beating their bellies like baboons. Tormented teenagers lurking in dark corners, and well meaning parents who had believed that just for once “they could eat in peace” or “enjoy dinner as a family”.
As I joined the Queue to pick my gruel of choice, I felt sticky paws claw at my dress. Shoving the child aside, I made my way to the buffet table, and quickly loaded up my tray.
The Mission Impossible theme tune played as I navigated through the aisles. I had secret insider knowledge that the sweet and sour sauce was a death trap for flies. Similarly the blancmange like substance in the egg fried rice was not from a hen. The prawn crackers would break every bone in Bruce Lee’s hand if he dared to karate-chop through one.
Once I had finally reached my seat I naively believed I was safe. I had arrived at my sanctuary. I was home. I chomped through my chow mein like a trooper, convincing myself flies eggs surely were a source of protein. I had finally transcended above the riff-raff and was at ease with the world. With a mouth full of curry sauce I smiled lazily at pedestrians as they hurried about their business.
Suddenly, I felt an ominous presence behind me. I smelt an overpowering aroma of lynx, and heard the anxious gulping of air close to my ear canal. No! Please not that..
“CAN I HELP YOU WITH ANYTHING?!” The adolescent waiter peered at me expectantly, a fake smile splayed across his pimply pretentious face.
He waited, swiftly inhaling, sucking on his dental appliances. A small sheen of sweat gathered in the furrows of my brow as I grew more aware of the curry stain on my shirt collar. In what felt like an eternity the moment passed and I returned to my food. A mere ten minutes later he attacked again, catching me by surprise.
“DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN DOWNLOAD OUR VOUCHERS IF YOU LOOK UP OUR WEBSITE? YOU WILL GET TEN PERCENT OFF YOUR NEXT MEAL.”
I cast him a scathing look. As if I would return here after receiving such abuse!
“No I am fine thanks”.
“WELL EVERY EURO COUNTS RIGHT?”
Did I give him the opinion that I lived like an impoverished pleb? Scrounging around for a tuppence for my next buffet meal?
“Yes, I will keep it in mind”.
Indigestion burnt my gullet, I had never inhaled a chow mein so quickly. I mapped out my exit route as quickly as possible, calculating the distance to the door from the free refill table. Drat! I would have to abandon that second gallon of well deserved coke zero.
“ARE YOU ENJOYING YOUR MEAL?”
I looked up angrily, a mouth full of chicken balls..
“YESH, I SAID”.
Would you interrupt a lion with a mouthful of wildebeest to ask him was he enjoying his meal? NO.
Would you poke a pelican, with a beak full of salmon to ask would he fill out a customer satisfaction survey? NO.
In my view the Oireachtas should legislate against harassment in the hospitality sector.
Over Courteous behaviour causes damage to our economy.
In the words of Ronan Keating, “you say it best when you say nothing at all.”