I get a lot of regulars at my restaurant. One such regular comes in every two weeks or so; an older couple who although very sweet are very demanding. The lady looks like the love child of Little Edie Beale from Grey Gardens and Gonzo from the Muppets. But I mean that in the nicest way possible, you know that. They always have a lot of requests.
"Can I get the salad without any cucumbers? Unless you want the cucumbers," she says to her husband who never hears anything either by choice or by deafness. "Maybe you can put the cucumbers on the side. No, just put them in the salad. No, just leave them out. I dunno. Dear? Would you eat the cucumbers if they come to the table? Dear? Oh, never mind. Just leave the cucumbers out. But put the dressing on the side. And make sure the soup is really hot. I love a hot soup, don't you, dear? Dear?"
The thing is, the salad is already mixed with tiny pieces of cucumber tossed in it so leaving it out means that someone has to go through their salad with impeccably clean hands and pick out all the cucumber. Whatever.
Whenever I clear their plates, I wonder if any of the food actually made it into their mouths. The table is a wasteland of leftover meatloaf, bread crumbs, quinoa, drops of soup and annoyance. Crumbing their table becomes a full-time job. The lady always wants to chat and see how things are going with me.
"So, you're still working here?"
"No, I quit two months ago. I just still like to hang out here on Thursdays while wearing an apron," I think to myself. "Yes, ma'am," I say to her.
I never know what kernel of information or entertainment they will give me when they show up, but last week, she came up with a doozy. I noticed she had been in the restroom for an inexplicably long time, leaving her husband to feel the need to make small talk with me despite my having five or six other tables that could have been dying of thirst. She finally emerged from the restroom and came right to me and got all up in my personal space. She leaned in towards my ear and I prepared to hear all sorts of things.
"I dropped a paper towel into the toilet bowl, so if you're concerned about that, I thought I'd let you know."
Why would I be concerned about that? Did she think I was standing in the dining room wondering if she was dropping paper towels into the toilet bowl? I figured she was in there dropping other things into the toilet bowl and lighting a dozen matches. Either way, I didn't care.
"Okay," I said.
She gave me a smile that said "I'm sorry that you're gonna have to go fish that out of the toilet bowl that is also full of the kale, prune and sunflower seed salad I had for lunch yesterday." I gave her a smile back that said, "Yeah, I don't do toilets, lady."
Why did she tell me that? Do I have some other way to remove a paper towel from a toilet that she doesn't? Ether way, someone is going to have to reach in there and pull it out with something; maybe the plunger that was sitting right next to the toilet or perhaps a soup ladle. Or just flush it until it goes away. I suppose she was being considerate and making sure The Great Paper Towel Disaster of 2012 could be cleaned up before the next customer stumbled upon the horror. I did what I always do when I hear the restroom needs attention: nothing. Again, I don't do toilets. The last time I had toilet bowl cleaning duty was in 1989 when I was the manager of the Putt-Putt Golf course on South Federal Boulevard in Denver. Cleaning toilets is the responsibility of either the owner, the manager, the busser, the dishwasher or Alice from The Brady Bunch. Not me.
Mr. and Mrs. Gonzo Little Edie Beale finally left, leaving a trail of chocolate stout cake crumbs and good intentions behind them. The left me a 15% tip and thanked me for the service. I appreciated the thank you's even though I had to dodge spittle and flying Israeli cous cous as it shot from the man's slippery dentures. They're a nice enough couple. Annoying, yes, but always smiling. Especially her. Too bad she has hardly any teeth because the smile would be so much nicer to receive that way.