When the pyramids aligned with the planets last week, for the first time in nearly 3,000 years, nothing seemed unusual. Except the internet was down at our house, which meant – for all practical purposes – the world stopped turning. Frozen in hyper-space, those of us who survived the household internet blackout, were obliged to forget about status updates, LOLcats and perusing the news. We were unplugged, forced to think outside the… 2-D screen. Then something else happened for the first time in as long as I can remember.
Dad and I went out for breakfast.
We chose Cricket Cafe, halfway between home and the other destinations on his nothing-else-to-do list.
“Sit wherever you like,” said the server, in a typical Portland-esque fashion: indifferent (if not, slightly irritated) with glasses, plaid shirt and a beard.
Several small tables were open. But the nearest spot was a big booth by the door, basically where we were standing. Dad wanted it; we plopped right in.
With furrowed brow, the server asked, “Are you expecting more people?”
I shook my head, no… while Dad explained, “We’re bi-polar, so it’s like there are four of us.”
The server, not amused, went away and came back a few minutes later, wondering if we wanted something to drink. Dad was immersed in the menu, other things on his mind, entirely.
“Do you have poached eggs, with corned beef hash?” He asked.
They awkwardly discussed a menu item that sounded like a match. Dad returned to intently reading the menu, while the server hovered, in silence.
“He wants to know if you want something to drink, Dad.”
Eventually looking up at the server, Dad said, “No, I’m going have something to eat.”
The server was exasperated. (Dad gets a kick out of playing the Old Person Card. Very convincing.)
Laughing on the inside, I told him, “I’ll have coffee, please. Dad’s fine with water.”
Steaming out his ears, the server left us.
“That could have gone better,” I said, glad it was over.
“What?” Says Dad, oblivious.
“He was having a hard time figuring out what you wanted to drink.”
The poor guy never came back. Instead, it was a blonde woman who returned and took our order (which went smoothly). For me, the veggie scramble, for Dad, a benedict.
Suddenly the door opened, with a whoosh of cold air over us. Dad wasn’t having it. He eyed a small open table across the room… I resisted a little, but when the door opened again with a fresh burst of cold air – there was no debating it. We made the move.
Great, we are the customers from Hell.
“This reminds me of Grandma Rose,” said Dad as we settled into our new table. He was reminiscing about my namesake, famous for being a difficult customer. She died before I was born, but I’ve heard the stories… Every time I find myself being picky at a restaurant, I know I’m channeling my Great Grandma Rose.
“She would never buy something without returning it,” Dad explained, “Never.”
Grandma Rose kept the tags on everything, because there was always something wrong with it. She once bought an air conditioner, had it installed, then thought it would be better in a different window… so she had the appliance man come back to move it, only to realize a few days later that the previous spot was, indeed, more suitable. He came out again and moved the air conditioner to it’s original location. A few days later, she had it sent back for a refund.
Fast forward one week, when lo-and-behold, Dad and I wound up getting breakfast AGAIN. (And the internet wasn’t even down this time!) We took a risk, and got lucky, hitting Pine State during a rare moment with no line.
We stood at the register, where Dad thought about what he wanted to eat. Immediately, a long string of hungry patrons formed in our wake.
Did my best to help expedite the process. Our next challenge would be finding a table.
Despite blowback, the hype over Pine State is well-earned. There are those who don’t like it, but they seem to be the sort of people who LIKE to dislike popular things. (To which I say, “Don’t hate for being great!”) The fact that we didn’t have to wait to order, in a line going out the door, was lucky… But that we scored a table? It was a miracle.
Not the best table though. Dad found it too small. After about 10 minutes, a family vacated a 4-top next to us and… you already know what happened next.
We moved over.