Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fat lady in a restaurant

I used to travel to Atlanta twice a year to attend the Gift Show. My employer's travel guy negotiated deals with various hotels there and I had a choice of two. After some housekeeping issues with one of the hotels, I switched to the other hotel, in a less convenient location but a lot cleaner. I would eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant every morning. The food and the wait staff were good, but single diners were routinely seated at tiny tables for two lined up along the walls, with a long banquette seat against the wall and regular chairs opposite. These tables were jammed in close - maybe 10" apart from each other. The chairs had arms, making them a tight fit for a fat lady, and I don't like to sit with my back to the dining room anyway, so I would sit on the banquette seat. In order to do that, I would have to move the table enough to allow me to squeeze through.

One morning, the hostess smiled brightly and led me to one of these tiny tables that was sandwiched inbetween tables already occupied by other diners. To get into the seat, I would have had to ask the other diners to get up so I could move their tables (which were loaded with coffee, juice, and other things that could spill). And no way was I going to draw attention to myself that way. So I said to the hostess, "You're going to have to seat me at another table. I'm too big to get into the seat at that one."

"But it's the only one available," she said. The place was busy and all the small tables were full, but there were several tables for four available. I pointed at the nearest four-top, said, "I'll sit there", pulled out a chair, and sat down before she could protest.

"Oh, okay," she said, and set the menu down in front of me.

As I was leaving the restaurant after eating my breakfast, the hostess approached me again and said, "You're not that big, you know." I think she was trying to be nice. I hope so. I was too embarrassed to speak. I just nodded and hurried out.

The next morning, I wanted to hide in my room and eat a room service breakfast, but my employer would not pay for a room service meal unless the hotel restaurant was closed, so I went back to the restaurant. The same hostess seated me at a four-top without having any discussion of where the fat lady could or could not fit.

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