Sunday, June 12, 2005

Crazy French Waiter

If you guys remember back, I took a trip with my dad to Normandy this spring. Um, you do remember right? Oh god, never mind, here's the link. It is the weekend afterall, I can't expect people to think :) right? Here are some others: French Radio, French Driving logic, Tour Eiffel, St. Michel, Sunset over St Michel (they are all in sequence). Anyways, while we were there we had LOTS of oysters. I mean every evening meal, with no exception. The thing I really love about oysters is the changes in texture and taste depending on where you harvest them. Anyways, so our last night in Paris we go foraging for oysters, and my dad seems to remember a place his boss took him where they were just particularly good. He's really animated about it, so I figure we should just do it. So we walk around for a good hour before we find this really nice looking place with a market right beside. It's not the same place, but whatever. The wait staff comes out in spurts collecting huge trays of some of the nicest looking oysters. So, we stop in.

They weren't too busy, so we sat almost immediately. The host was very polite. He placed our table and sat us with minimal fuss. This was to be the calm before the storm that was our waiter for the evening. About ten minutes later, after more than half the restaurant filled, an average looking man in a nice suit and glass struts up to the table and starts filling water glasses, asking us about wine and what he can recommend. It is about 10C outside, and this guy is sweating, profusely. We make our order, everything seems to be fine, even if he is a little abrupt, but then again this is what I experienced overall in Paris -- given that I don't speak the french I was surprised I didn't get treated like crapola :)

So we go through the ordering okay. Then I notice this same guy flies by our table at almost a dead run. Then he does it again. He's yelling at the guy who seated us, throws a pad and pencil at him, and continues running back and forth, with bottles and hands full of glasses. Suddenly, there IS no wait staff. Then, like a floodgate, the waiter bursts from around the corner with two enormous trays of oysters followed by an enterage of misc. waitstaff, most of which is terribly underdressed. Once done serving the first trays he comes over to us. "This is the most horrible night ever," he offers, practically seething, "I apologize for the delays, but we are down two wait staff." He then starts to gimp away, and by gimp I mean this man has done enough running in dress shoes that I bet his achille's tendon is exposed.

Time passed. I am deep in conversation with my dad, and enjoying a subpar white wine, when the waiter appears and dunks his hands in our ice bucket. "I am so sorry," he defends himself, "That little asshole burned me." My father and I make appropriate apologies, though we've no idea what is going on. "Dont' worry, I will kick his ass AFTER work, hand me a plate so hot it takes the skin off. WHAT was he thinking!" I tried not to laugh, this guy was so surly he was comedic. He stumbles off again, and I half expected to see bloody footprints. For someone so lame though, he moved remarkablely fast. He came back a few minutes later with our meal, and apologised for his comments earlier. We both noted that he'd just had a rough night and not to worry about it, we were american afterall. HE actually smiled, I'm not sure if it was in appreciation of our exculpatory explanation of his actions or our poking fun at ourselves. We shall never know. He didn't revisit out table that evening. I did see him one more before we left though. With a clearing tray, he ran square into another guy with a serving tray. In the collision the poor waiter ripped his pants. This guy had been through it all and to top it off, it was just getting worse. We left around 11 pm, the place was packed, he was the only waiter, and there was a 15 - 20 person cue for seats. I think they were actually turning people away at this point. I just hope he got through the night without killing someone. The meal was supurb.


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