I swear I see the craziest things at work!
It’s story time! Last night at work I was able to witness one of the most humiliating things you could ever experience – a public break-up. With our generation being constantly connected to Twitter and Facebook, all of our break-ups and make-ups are far from private. All is takes is a sappy status update for all of your followers to know you are going through something.
But last night was something completely different. Until then, I had only witnessed people’s public break-up on lousy reality-tv shows. This was my first full experience of the #awkwardmoment and this time, I was the sever for this table!
I will begin the story with the couple’s arrival. They are seated by the hostess and I greet them with water. Now, anyone who has ever served before has a certain routine to their steps-of-service. So, as I am pouring them water and introducing myself I ask, “Would you like anything to drink other than water?” They say they need a little more time to decide on their drinks so I make my rounds to my other tables.
First impression: this is just a normal couple that decided eat out tonight. They were very pleasant and appeared to be happy, but we all know that looks can be deceiving.
I give them about seven minutes before I return to inquire about a drink selection. Of course, that was not enough time and I have to make another round before I could actually initiate their “fine-dining-experience”. In my head, I really wanted to know what they had been talking about that created such a distraction from choosing a drink!
When I return for the second time they have finally decided. The lady wants our house Pinot Grigio while the man wants our house Cabernet Sauvignon. Right then I knew this is going to be an interesting table. Now, they took a strong twenty minutes to decide on wine. You would think that this would lead to a) them sharing a bottle or b) them ordering a glass of wine that was not the cheapest of the cheap. But, I am absolutely not here to judge their wine selection.
I bring over their wine and take their appetizer order. The appetizer comes out and I see they are engaged in a deep conversation. From what I can tell this is a good conversation. I mean, I went over twice to see if they were ready to order entrees and they “still needed more time.” I even apologize for interrupting and rushing them because clearly we are on different time tables.
When the lounging couple finally receives their entrees that is when things start going south. The conversation and body language becomes really intense. I still have to serve them in a polite and non-nosey manner but, I know I have to just stay quiet and cut-down on the questions. I learned my lesson after getting a severe evil-eye when I asked the gentleman if he wanted another glass of wine. I guess I should have just refilled his water glass and kept it moving… Whatever.
They eat their entrees and resume their serious conversation… well, kind of. I can’t help but notice that every fifteen minutes or so, he is getting up to go to the restroom. Weird. Then of course, when try to clear the table while he was away she tells me he is “still working” on what appears to be an empty plate of pasta. Whatever you say Lady…
I finally ask the pair “Would you like to look at a dessert menu? …Can I get you any coffee or tea?” She immediately says no, but he wants coffee as well as the check. [Finally!] I bring back his coffee and the check and let them finish their discussion.
Now what makes this experience extremely awkward is that I am not only trying to treat them as if I am unaware of their tension, but they are sitting right next to our server station computer. So, as their conversation continues and gets louder and more uncomfortable, I have to keep going back to this server station to close out other checks and place new orders. I didn’t want to look like I was listening to their lover’s quarrel but I kind of couldn’t help it.
As we all know with all break-ups come tears. About twenty minutes post dropping-the-check on their table, the lady is in tears! Real. Human. Tears. I avoid making eye-contact as much as possible and I overhear the guy asking “Is this too stressful for you? Is this too much?” [You are breaking up with her in a crowded restaurant … What do you think?!] With her nose running and her eyes streaming tears she responds “No, No, No. It’s fine… I’m fine.” [Honey, you might want to take a trip to the Ladies’ Room.] Instead he gets up to go to the bathroom -again- and I’m just trying to figure out when these people are going to pay and leave! [Hasn’t this been enough embarrassment for one night?]
The man returns from the restroom and reaches for his wallet. As soon as I see him put his card in the checkbook I grab it, swipe, and say my goodbyes. The lady is trying to hide her face with her hair but I’ve already witnessed everything. I go to the server station to close out one last check and I hear her say, “I can’t believe this is happening right now…” Poor thing. I decide to give them a little privacy to leave so I go find some side-work to do… anything to relieve me from the extreme awkward moment.
They finally leave and I go back to pick up their check. At least he paid for their last meal together, right? While she may have gotten a free meal out of this break-up she was extremely humiliated. My advice to anyone thinking of ending things with their significant other: save yourselves the embarrassment and keep it a private matter. When you break-up in public, especially a restaurant, you are inviting everyone around you to be witness to the pain. For bystanders, it is completely and utterly uncomfortable. Just don’t do it.