There’s a lot to be sad about these days.
Sometimes there are surprising moments though. For example, a new Arby’s opened up in Homewood some time ago. Now fast food employees are just fast food employees and we’ve all come to expect it. So when I went there the week it opened, I preangered myself in anticipation of the crap service I was about to receive. Instead, the lady at the counter was so nice and friendly and genuinely happy, it threw me off! I stammered through my order like a teenage boy asking a girl out for the first time ever. And unlike high school, this girl didn’t laugh at me and tell her friends I smell like luncheon meats.
I’m assuming. It reminds me of how odd I felt when President Obama was interviewed on The Daily Show With John Stewart. I felt almost uncomfortable the whole time and then I realized why. I hadn’t heard a president sound smart in eight years and had gotten so used to it, that it seemed strange when there was someone who could talk all good and stuff. Sadly, unhappy behavior and less than stellar personalities is just what we’ve come to expect as a society. In fact, we don’t know how to deal with genuinely happy people. It weirds us out. I told the Arby’s girl she had a nice smile and was very friendly.
You’d think a finer dining experience would bode well for a happy interaction, but one faithful night, this was not meant to be. Years ago, I was on a date at Surin West in 5 Points South. I love Surin and their delicious Thai food. I’d trip an old lady for a cup of that coconut soup. Don’t worry out there old ladies. I’m just kiddin. Or am I?
We sit down and the waiter comes over.
He’s very friendly, pours us water and begins to take our order. He asks if we’d like something to drink. We always got wine or liquor with dinner, but for no particular reason neither of us did this time. The waiter’s facial expression and demeanor changed so fast. As if you told a kid the whole family was going to Six Flags, but were gonna leave you at home to do the dishes.
Having been a waiter before, I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and I knew exactly what happened. When I was a waiter, my fellow wait staff hated everything, especially people who didn’t order alcohol. Lots of drinks mean a bigger tab, a bigger tab means a bigger tip, no drinks meant you were a cheap skate. Never thinking once that maybe they’re on medication, recovering alcoholics or perhaps don’t drink for religious reasons. Here’s one, maybe they just don’t want a damn drink!
Long story short, he never paid attention to us the rest of the night. His busser did all the work, and he was generally a crappy waiter to us. But the table across from us had ordered drinks and he was laughing it up with them all night. Literally laughing out loud with them the whole time. I’m pretty sure I gave the busser a tip and I left the waiter a big fat goose egg. Zero. Zip. Bupkis. He doesn’t work there anymore but if he did I’d tell him, Nóng h y! That’s Thai for you stink!
For the most part I’m a happy-go-lucky fella, but I get cranky too. So maybe I should think about things a little more before rushing to judgement. Perhaps these people have had hard lives or just a really bad day. Maybe there has been a serious family matter and coping with it is hard. Perhaps some life choices they’ve made didn’t pan out well and they’re just doing the best they can with what they have. Who am I to judge these people?
I’m Chris Davis dammit! That’s who I am and I do judge these people.
You mofos better be glad I’m not Caesar!
I’d get straight colosseum on your ass! Would it kill you to at least pretend to not hate the universe and all that is has to offer. Just smile, nod, give me my number 7 combo meal and we can both move on with the rest of our lives. Speaking of a number 7 combo meal, I wonder if Arby’s girl would like a job at Surin. I’ll be happy to give her a good reference. Anyone know how to say Arby’s in Thai?
“Here’s the thing…” is a weekly column featuring humor and commentary by Christopher Davis, comedian and host of Fresh Ground Comics and View of the City. Send your feedback to email@example.com.