Valentine’s Day was here and as 95% of men across the globe, it had snuck up on me. It doesn’t matter that it happens every year on the exact same day. It also doesn’t matter that jewelers, greeting card companies, florists, and candy makers started warning us of its impending arrival as soon as they ceased pushing their Christmas goodies. We’ve been warned and that’s probably the problem. We have a month and a half to ignore the advertisements so we’re used to just walking by the prominent signs calling us to come and splurge. In a last ditch effort to save face, we rummage through the leftover Christmas candy, pulling out all of the red-wrapped ones and create our own chocolate bouquet. There’s nothing like the creative rush brought on by the clicking clock.
With no other plans in the works, I decide to take the girls out to dinner. As an added bonus, I sweet talked Zac into babysitting the 8-year old. Now we would have a quiet evening without twenty questions and crayons. Next, I needed to pick a place and call for reservations.
That’s the hard part in my town. Very few places take reservations anymore. I looked up this one restaurant online that we had wanted to try; figuring some adventure for the night with a new place would be nice. Actually, I had Teri look it up. I know, I know. I’m terrible. The place, however, had changed names and received lousy reviews by customers who regretted gracing the doorsteps of what was to be my saving grace. The place did take reservations, though.
“With reviews like that, I doubt we would need reservations,” Teri said.
I concurred and called Outback Steakhouse. We were set for 7 pm with instructions to arrive 10-15 minutes early. Valentine’s was saved and I avoided the scolding many men would receive by night’s end.
We got all spruced up and by 6:30 we were out the door. The place was packed and I heard the hostess tell one couple it would be an hour wait. It pays to call ahead, I thought as I stepped up to her podium.
“May I help you?”
“Yes, I have reservations for seven. It’s under Robbie Cox.”
“Well, you’re a little early, so it will be about 25-30 minutes.”
“Why? I have reservations at seven. That’s only ten minutes from now.”
“Oh, well, you came early so…”
“I was told to come early by the girl I called at two o’clock today. Why did she tell me to come early if I was going to wait longer?”
“Well, I, uh…”
“You see the point of the reservation is to let you know we’re coming so you can reserve the table. You were given ample time to prepare. Five hours, in fact. I even came early as I was asked to do. You do understand why you take reservations, correct?”
“Give us ten minutes, sir.”
My friend, Stephanie Neighbour, says that where she lives everyone takes reservations. I wish that were the case here, but it’s not. Now it’s first come, first serve and if you want to eat at six you had better be there by five. I don’t know about you, but I’m not one to wait an hour to be seated for overpriced food. They do tell you that you can get an expensive cocktail at the bar, but fifty people are already crowded around it waiting for their turn to be seated for food, as well.
There’s a popular dining establishment near me called Grills Riverside, which has an outside deck where you can enjoy your food while gazing out at the Indian River. However, this area of the restaurant is first come, first serve, as well. Inside you can have your name put on a list and get a table in forty minutes. Not outside. On the deck, you’re eating your meal and hungry people are circling like vultures hoping you’ll finish so they can swoop down on your dirty table before other scavengers claim it. I tend to eat slower at these times because I’m mean like that.
Reservations are something I’d pay extra for in my dining experience. It shows that I not only planned ahead, but that the dining establishment appreciates me giving them advance warning so they can prepare. It’s a luxury that too many have tossed out and it gives me reservations about eating at their establishment. If they’re going to insist I wait an hour because they didn’t advance warning, then they should offer me free drinks while I wait. Of course, then I’d wait all night.
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