Something interesting happened today, and I’m still not certain as to how I should – or if I should – deal with it. Frankly, I’ve not had this sort of thing happen in a long time, so it could be that I’m just out of practice, and I need to find my rhythm. I’m angry, but I don’t know if I should be, and that’s part of my problem.
Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?
Well, let me share:
I’ll spare you the background dramatics – it’s Sunday, we’re expecting a major snow storm, and both the Little Woman and I had things to do before the big, fluffy white stuff arrived to cramp our styles. In her case, it was a morning trek with her visiting relatives. Meanwhile, I’d originally intended to stay home and read, but by early afternoon, I’d gotten stir crazy and decided to venture out. At the very least, there was a model kit that I wanted from a local hobby store – I could go check it out.
I’d been out for a while when the Little Woman called me. In an effort to spare me kitchen duties, she was offering to stop by a local restaurant to pick up dinner. This restaurant is an area legend, noted for its hamburgers and shakes. The food is good, although their ice cream and shakes are better. Personally, I have no concerns one way or another; as far as I was concerned, I could cook, we could prepare a frozen pizza, or we could have whatever it was she wanted to bring home. I’m easy like that, and I presume that’s why the Little Woman’s stuck around with me for as long as she has. In any case, I told her to decide on what she wanted to do, and I’d be happy either way.
She opted for the restaurant.
As I was making my way home – this is about 20 minutes after the initial call – I received another call from the Little Woman.
“I ordered hamburgers and fries, but they’ve shorted me. I’ve only got one bag of fries, not two.”
It’s weird how Life works. I was literally just down the street from the eatery at this point.
“Call them up and tell them what happened,” I said. “I’ll head over there now and pick up the fries.”
She did, and another call followed: “Ask for Will. He’s the manager I spoke to.”
In my mind, this is a simple insertion-extraction sort of mission. Just go in, ask for Will, he’ll hand me the bag, and I can leave. No fuss, no muss. That’s how it should have happened.
Instead, once I arrived and asked for Will, I’m greeted by a guy who struck me as fitting every stereotype of a fast-food restaurant manager imaginable. He was short, young (probably early 20s), with wisps of facial hair. In my mind’s eye, he had a pimply complexion, but I honestly can’t remember if that was the case. He looked intense as he was calling for an order. I told him that I was here because of the shorted fries order, and he nodded.
So far, my plan was working.
“Uh, right,” he began, and right away I knew things were not going to be as easy as I’d thought.
“Was your order for two or three fries?” he asked.
“Two.” I didn’t know, to be honest, but typically, that’s what the Little Woman orders.
“Well, I’ve got a manager back here who says she checked that order before it went up,” Manager Will continued, “and she says that there were two fries in it.”
He gauged my lack of reaction.
I guess I was supposed to flinch at that, but I didn’t.
“I’m going to give you another fries,” he said, “and we’re just gonna take your word for it, but that bag was checked before it went up.” He tossed me a white bag. “That order was checked. We’re not going to argue with you this time, but . . . ”
He may have continued talking; I don’t know because by this point in the transaction, I’d mentally checked out. Truth be told, I was a breath away from throwing the bag of fries at Will, and I’m pretty sure that I’d have gotten him squarely in the mouth. Which he would have deserved, by the way. He stared at me like he suspected that I was the leader of a ring of potato thieves, who’ve laid waste to area restaurants with our dramatic spud heists. The headlines cry, “Is no potato safe from this villainy?” He should have gotten a bag to the mouth just for the glare he gave me as he tried to weigh the veracity of my story (“Sorry, I’m just here to pick up the order.”)
Yep, you got me, Manager Will. Guilty as charged. Arrest me and put me behind waffle-fries bars forever.
Yes, I should have said something, but it wouldn’t have been nice. And I was still weighing the possibility of tossing that bag at Manager Will. But jail helps no one, especially not me, and I’m certain that would have been the outcome.
So, I smiled, thanked him, and took my little bag to the car. I was angry, but you’d have never known. I started laughing – in fact, I laughed all the way home.
I know that there are people who’d steal air if they could find a way to pull it off, but seriously – a bag of French fries? I’ve got a bag of frozen fries in my freezer right now; had this been my money involved, I’d have never called the restaurant in the first place. I’d have just baked myself as many golden potato slices as I wanted. The only reason I urged the Little Woman to call was because she sounded so defeated over the telephone at having paid for something not received. It hasn’t been a good week for her, and next week isn’t looking any better; I figured that I’d help her see something positive today, hence my retrieval of this bag of lost fries.
And here’s the kicker: The damn bag only cost $1.35. We’re not talking some Lufthansa level robbery here, or some act of conspiracy that’s going to leave the restaurant in the red – just a dollar and thirty-five cents. And it wasn’t even a full sack of fries – behold:
I should have put a ruler next to it so that you could put this in perspective. This is smaller than a small order of McDonald’s fries, so we’re talking, what – a single potato here? Hell, the Little Woman paid for the order and didn’t get it, so who’s the real victim here?
I didn’t tell the Little Woman what had transpired until long after dinner; when I did, she became highly annoyed.
“We’re not eating there again anytime soon,” was her response. “That’s ridiculous.”
I’m still trying to figure out if I’m justified in being mad, though. I’ve been accused of theft before (for a variety of reasons, and no – I’ve never done anything like that), but given that I was only the guy picking up the missing food, and was never a part of the actual purchase, I really don’t get Manager Will’s accusations or attitude. Maybe it’s a good thing that this restaurant is off of our dining list for the next few months; it’ll force us to explore other sites and find new haunts. Still . . . all of this over a damn potato.
Human beings will find ways to get stupid over just about anything, I guess.