I feel like I know that guy over there.
I don’t know him personally, on account of never having met him.
But make no mistake … I feel like I know him.
This is not a local diner you drop in every week, if not every day. Depending on when he was here last, there’s a good chance things have changed.
The music is making this really weird.
It’s strange enough being in an empty restaurant late on a Saturday afternoon. Hearing the music intended for … who exactly? The people waiting for someone to bring their takeout orders? The employees in the back? No one at all?
It’s almost spooky.
That guy over there probably isn’t thinking of the music, though. He’s clearly agitated, pacing in circles, craning his neck in the hopes that someone will see him. He finally calls — calls the restaurant we’re standing in, mind you — to get someone’s attention.
A couple times, he looks my way, like he’s trying to find some solidarity in the craziness of it all.
Not that it’s impossible to be expressive behind a mask — after all, I’m having no trouble figuring out what’s on his mind — but I try to give him nothing.
I’m mostly thinking that it’s crazy, but not in the way he’s thinking. I’m thinking he needs to read the room … the empty room … to read life.
I know I’m going to wait. We had ordered online, but the website has kind of a wonky setup, so we weren’t able to choose our pickup time and our food was going to be done about 40 minutes earlier than we had planned.
I called to see if they could change it, and between one of the employees and the manager, they told me they normally don’t but they would this time. If they had said they just couldn’t, it would have been OK, since we could have popped it in the microwave once we got home.
But then we spend less time at our first errand than we had planned and are 20 minutes early. Karma, I guess.
Eventually, a guy comes out of the back. I think it’s the guy I had talked to. The guy over there says he wants to use the discount code on his phone, but is told he can’t.
Our dude is not happy, says he has done it before. I’m wondering when that was. This is not a local diner you drop in every week, if not every day. Depending on when he was here last, there’s a good chance things have changed.
Out comes the manager, surely the same one I talked to. They’re in front of me now.
Same discussion — she tells him she can’t give him the discount because he ordered off the website and it’s a third-party vendor (again, wonky setup), and he insists he has done it before.
Finally, she comes up with the idea to call the discount into corporate and let him keep the code on his phone for another day.
It takes her two tries for him to realize he’s going to get the discount twice. His whole mood changes, as he takes his food and leaves.
A few minutes later, the guy brings our order from the kitchen. It’s right on time. I thank him for taking care of things when everything is so weird.
His smile was easy to see, in spite of the mask.
Even though I still have moments — there were a few unpleasant words when a simple mulch job unexpectedly turned into removing prickly vines — I’m trying really hard to not let stuff get to me.
The reason I feel like I know this guy is because … I’ve been that guy.
I have, on occasion, been slightly tetchy with others when things haven’t gone exactly as I wanted.
And “slightly tetchy” is just the first gear. There are others. They have been worse.
Only on the rarest of occasions have they actually deserved it, although that one time in particular, it’s amazing what a simple email to the New York State Public Service Commission will do.
Maybe I’d be that guy again if it’s my order. I’m sure it’s frustrating, and it’s easy to watch with bemusement when it’s not your discount and someone tells you they can’t help you … until they figure out until they can.
But I hope not. Even though I still have moments — there were a few unpleasant words when a simple mulch job unexpectedly turned into removing prickly vines — I’m trying really hard to not let stuff get to me.
To read the room of life, if you will.