The following is the result of this last Wednesday’s Word Wars at Books on Broadway, Siloam Springs.
We will be at BoB every Wednesday noon – 2 pm, if you would like to join us.
The silver pipe ran across the ceiling, front to back in front of the brick wall. Sally sat against the red painted wooden chair, hunched over the table, periodically glancing toward that shiny obstruction. It was just hanging there and she had no idea why. Obviously there was some kind of use for it, or it wouldn’t have been placed there, but she thought the use was probably long past. Why didn’t they just take the damn thing out?
“Can I help you?” The waiter stood in front of her, hip jutted to one side, a smirk on his mouth. He’s the one.
“Sure. I want a diet Coke. And the grilled veggie plate.”
He scribbled on his pad, glanced down at her again. “Do you want a glass of ice with your soft drink?”
She smiled. Had known this was coming. “Of course. What a dumb question. Do you guys have to ask everyone that?”
He stood perfectly still, mouth working, unsure what to say. Reddening, he nodded and turned away.
Strike one. That’s what she was hoping for. This guy had been giving people a hard time for way too long. Why the management hadn’t fired him, no one knew. How many complaints? She could count twenty that she knew of. Okay, next step? She still wasn’t sure. This was something she was new at. Had never done anything like this before. But today she would go for it.
In the middle of the meal, she would try to get his attention. If, according to predictable behavior, he tried to ignore her, she would wave her hand. Then she would go to the front of the restaurant and tell them she needed help.
She would not leave a tip. And she would complain—in front of him.
The food came quickly. Piping hot. A fresh bed of veggies layered over steamed brown rice. The colors were spectacular. And the smell irresistible. This is why everyone came here. The tastes. The smells. The crazy good food they served. It was definitely not for the service.
Still, she wanted to make an impression.
Teresa had told her last week, as much as she liked the food here, she would never come again. First, the bad service and sarcastic waiter. But it was more than that. He had made a point of humiliating her in front of friends.
Ashley couldn’t accept this. The jerk deserved to be brought down. But who did this kind of thing?
Was this one of those things… A clash of wills? She wasn’t sure. Perhaps. But maybe not.
Confrontation was not her thing. She was not good at it. But for some reason this incident with Teresa had hit a nerve. What was it he had said? “Do you really want to eat that much?” It was the tone that mattered. And the emphasis he had placed on the word ‘really’.
“Do you really want to eat that much?”
Worse, was the look. The up and down glance as he stepped back, as if to take all of her in. Fucker.
She crammed a bite of broccoli and carrot into her mouth and chewed violently, glancing up at the silver pipe again. Why not get rid of the damn thing if they don’t use it? Why the hell would they just let it sit there? It reminded her of something she would see on Cannery Row. These outdated, anachronistic elements of architectural detail that no longer meant anything. The restaurant with the huge steam pot sitting at the center of the dining room. What’s the goddam point?
Water sounded good. Her waiter crossed the other side of the room, glanced her way, but continued on as if he hadn’t seen her. What an ass. She could wait. She would wait until he crossed again and make it obvious she needed help. She would wave at him from across the room. Everyone would see.
She shoved another bite into her mouth, closed her eyes and focused on the explosion of flavors. Bell peppers, squash, broccoli, onion, perfect rice. A black and white uniform caught her attention from across the room and she glanced up, hand rising, she waved.
Their eyes met, a brief sneer, so brief she couldn’t be sure it was real. Then he nodded and held an index finger up. She should wait a minute. She could wait. Patience was her middle name after all.
Moments later, he appeared at the table, “How can I help you?” he asked. Something in the tone. Acid, underlying that perfect formality.
“I just need a glass of water. With Ice please.”
He nodded, turned on his heel and left. How long would it take him, she wondered. He was back a moment later, a glass of ice water on a tray. Sweat beading along the outside. He set it on the table in front of her. “Anything else ma’am?”
She shook her head, smiling. “How are the vegetables?”
Her smile remained plastered there. “Oh they are wonderful. Perfect rice too.”
Nodding, he grinned. “Our cook is exceptional. Let me know if you need anything else.”
She nodded in response wondering what just happened. Was he actually attempting to be cordial? Was he trying to be nice?
Teresa should have come. That would have put all questions to rest. This was the right waiter. Other waitstaff were female. Unless it was a different day he worked. She didn’t think to ask Teresa what day she had come.
The check came fifteen minutes later and she gave it a cursory glance, wondered how to get out of tipping. What if he’s the wrong waiter?
Couldn’t be. He had to be the right one.
This was completed in 3 – 15 minute wars. My low count has been about 105 words in 15 minutes, but I have also gone as high as 450 words.