Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Cell Phone, the Waiter, and the Mink Coat

What I gained by being in France was learning to be better satisfied with my own country. - Samuel Johnson

Now I'm not going to tell you the restaurant's cuisine, and no I don't have a photo of the place. What I DO have is a cartoon that an Australian friend did for me for a LFNY post a hundred years ago. It is sort of apt ...

Friday evening. A Manhattan restaurant.

It'd been a long hard week and the three of us sat down to wine and dine and chat and relax. Which we did. The food was so-so. The wine was good, and if a little pricey, only to be expected. After all, it WAS the Upper East Side. Three New Yorkophiles, two of us Australian. All women. Sitting quietly discussing a range of topics from the Australian film industry to the New York - pre-sanitized New York, before the days of mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg.

Now I've been to restaurants in Europe where patrons plonk their cell phones on the table when they dine out. But even in New York, and especially on the Upper East side, it is definitely not de rigueur to use cell phones in company. But one of us - let's just call her "Lucy" - had just that evening, bought a new 4G Samsung Android phone. As I own the 3G model of the same brand, I'd helped her set it up with the basics when she'd arrived at the restaurant carrying it still in its pink and white T-mobile bag.

Around ten-ish we were starting to get ready to ask for the check when Lucy rummaged in her hand bag for her wallet. I didn't hear her phone ring but it must have vibrated. Or perhaps she just wanted to look at it - it being new. Whatever. In any case Lucy removed it from her bag and stared at it.

Suddenly out of nowhere, one of the waiters swooped on her, and saying how cell phones were banned, snatched it from her hands and proceeded to change the settings.

Lucy was speechless. I was furious. "Don't alter her phone," I complained and he laughed. I insisted, but to no avail. He changed something on it, and only then did he place on the table. He seemed to find the situation très amusant. We didn't. He started to argue with me and then the third member of our party, let's call her "Cordelia", not known for her reticence in calling a spade a shovel, came to my defense. Volubly. It was all too much. The waiter continued to stand there, giggling inanely. The disagreements and the witticisms from the council for the defense on my left, seemed to be never ending. I couldn't handle it. By this stage the restaurant was nearly empty, and I left.

Although I'd told my companions I was leaving, apparently they didn't hear me, and assumed I'd gone to the bathroom.

I found out the next day when we were having our postmortems, that they waited some time before they realized I'd gone. By then the waiters had gathered around the bar. Cordelia gave them a good dressing-down and then she and Lucy called a car service and left.

But that wasn't the end of it. On getting home Lucy decided to look at her new phone in the safety of her own apartment, and was puzzled when she saw she had a very long voice mail. It was no other than the the restaurant conversation between the three of us and the phone-snatching waiter. Quelle horreur! "How had that happened?" she asked me the next morning. I had no idea.

Later, Cordelia phoned to tell me she'd left croissants she'd bought before meeting us at the restaurant. That and a canister of designer tea.

"I'm going back for them," she told me. "Oh no!!" I was aghast.

"I hope it is cold enough. I'll go on Sunday and 'make an entrance'. AND I intend to wear my mink coat," she explained.

I laughed.

And knowing Cordelia, she'll do it with panache!

C'est si bon.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Well that Waiter was beyond rude!!!

There is no way he has the right to touch someone's property like that. He should have just told her to put it away. I would have raised unholy hell if he tried to do that to me.
Someone should have called the manager over and complained. AND I think you should name this restaurant all over the internet especially on review websites and shame the heck out of them.

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