I wholeheartedly believe in Karma. She comes in different forms and typically when least expected, but the bottom line is that she always comes…
Clifford and I were taking a brief reprieve from school for a weekend in Atlanta. Apparently, we had committed ourselves to a double date with Cliff’s friend Tim and a girl he was seeing at the time. This was a rare phenomenon for several reasons. One of them being that Clifford was the one who agreed to a social gathering with friends. The second being that Clifford was going on a date in any capacity whatsoever. The third was that I was the one of our twosome that didn’t want to go (no offense, Tim) as double dates just never appealed to me. There’s always that something awkward about them that has left me easily declining future offers through the years.
Regardless, there Clifford and I sat on a Saturday night at an Outback Steakhouse in the suburbs of Atlanta waiting for Tim and his girl to arrive. Being the daughter of my father, I made sure we were there 15 minutes early (because if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right). They actually gave us a table, even though there was quite a demand, because our friend and his date would soon be there.
Our waiter was a younger guy, probably around our age. He wasn’t the friendliest but he wasn’t a jerk either. He brought us our complimentary bread and our cold cokes and continued to replenish and refill them as the evening wore on (which was quite a while as Tim and his date weren’t there). They were running late. That said, this was the era before everyone could contact anyone at the drop of a hat via mobile phones and the like, so Clifford and I had no idea where they were or what was keeping them. Were they going to be just ten minutes late? Fifteen, perhaps? Were they coming at all? The age before Wi-Fi and cellular plans was like one giant guessing game. And as the ones waiting, where exactly do you draw that line?
Our waiter slowly became irritable, subtly-not-so-subtly prodding us to order or pay for the drinks and get the hell out of Dodge. We were not insensitive to his plight. He was a waiter at an Outback on a Saturday night. He could probably turn the table two or three times in the amount of time we ended up being there that evening, but faux pas like that should be remedied when it comes to the tip, acknowledging with your wallet that your wait staff’s time is valuable and that you understand it is their living. However, it should not be remedied by a waiter turned asshole trying to kick you to the curb sooner than you’d like.
45 minutes later (60 minutes if you count the 15 we were there in advance), and maybe 6 or 7 Coca-Colas down the hatch, Tim and his date walked through the door. By this point, our waiter was slamming down the 5th loaf of courtesy bread and freshly refilled glasses while glaring at us with the heat of a thousand suns. In short, he was acting the douche.
Of course, Tim was extremely apologetic to us and to the waiter as well. He and his girl made their menu choices as quickly as possible to get things moving. As the dinner progressed, the waiter became more hostile and aggressive (pretty sure he spat in our food). We weren’t going to complain or engage the management, though, because it simply wasn’t worth the energy or our breath. Negativity and opposition such as that rarely is.
While ignoring the waiter, and trying to enjoy our meal, we swapped college stories and made small awkward talk. Clifford, all the while, began shifting in his seat uncomfortably. This continued till our dinner neared its end, as indicated by the bill being handed to us while still eating our steaks. That’s when he leaned over to me and whispered he was off to the restroom but he’d be right back. Famous last words.
So I sat there, by myself, making small awkward talk with Tim and a strange girl I’d never met, because it was a double date … and we continued to make small awkward talk and continued to make small awkward talk because Clifford still hadn’t returned.
Over 20 minutes later, our waiter now officially Lucifer in the flesh, Clifford unsteadily emerged from the men’s room with his hand on his stomach, trying to act as nonchalant as possible while gracelessly making his way back to our table.
He reached us, leaned in and said in his deep South African accent, “We need to go. Like we need to go now.”
I looked at him questioningly as did Tim’s date. Tim made some witty remark about leaving so soon which prompted Clifford to repeat,” We need to go. I’m serious,” as he looked distractedly back towards the bathroom and then back to me, a bit of panic and a desperate plea in his eyes.
Suspect, I cautiously asked, “Why?…”
He took a deep breath, uttered a heavy sigh and reluctantly said, “I just had a case of the green apple splatters…I pity the person who goes in there after me. It’s bad. It’s SO bad. We need to leave the money and go.”
As he divulged his reasons for leaving, Tim, Tim’s date, and I all turned our heads and followed Clifford’s line of sight to the bathroom door. The next thing we saw was our douchebag waiter walking in…
I was reminded of that moment through the events of this last week. Sometimes you’re going to be the guy that can’t help inappropriately dumping in public, and sometimes you’re going to be the guy who can help being a disrespectful douche. Karma knows the difference and she comes for us all.