September is a quiet month in paradise. Business is slower, visitor numbers are lower, and each shift at the restaurant is a crapshoot. Sometimes it's busy, and sometimes........notsomuch. But even on the slowest night, things can happen.
Wednesday night was quiet like that. We didn't have a single customer until 6:45pm.
Not a soul.
Eventually a few tables filled up. At table One, we had a couple enjoying a few glasses of wine, a quiet dinner, and hushed conversation. Towards the back was a little kid and his mom - he had ridden his little red trike right into the restaurant and parked it next to the table. Soon he was climbing around in the booths, turning off the lights and running in circles. He asked for a glass of water and than marched right behind the bar to get it himself.
One of those kids.
His mom was one of those touchy-feely new-agey mamas, who always speak in a soft sweet voice and keep discipline to a minimum. Each time the kid did something obnoxious (like turn off the lights over the bar, plunging us into darkness) she would say "No no no, we have to leave the lights on." in her sing-song bullshit voice, as though SHE didn't mind if he turned them out, but the pesky people in the restaurant were stifling her little darling's free expression. Between the tricycle and the flashing lights and the kid being underfoot, I was pretty annoyed. The most annoying thing about the entire situation, though, was that they weren't there to eat dinner. They were there talking with some friends who had stopped in (and were ALSO not eating dinner). So this kid, and his useless mother, were just hanging out and slowly but surely pissing me off. As I have previously stated right here on this very blog: my tolerance for obnoxious children in general - and in restaurants in particular - is already pretty low. But if you are not even a paying customer? It's nil.
After about 30 minutes of behavior that one of my kids would have been taken home for exhibiting, my patience was frayed. And then, in one moment.........it snapped. Her little darling walked up to the customers (the paying customers) enjoying a romantic dinner at table 1, met the gentleman sitting there with a level gaze, reached out......
and snatched the bread off the guy's bread plate and shoved it right in his own little mouth.
I just happened to be standing at that very table at that exact moment, refilling waterglasses.
I almost dropped the pitcher.
I froze, my mouth hanging open, and then my head snapped up and over to my right - searching for the mother. And when we made eye contact, it is a great personal disappointment to me that she didn't burst into flames on the spot from the heat of my glare. I must be losing my touch.
Note to self: work on freezing glare and shooting fire from eyeballs.
Another note: do not use both at once, they cancel each other out.
It took all of my strength to remain professional. Instead of going with my first reaction - which would be to scream "What the fucking FUCK do you think you are doing?" while snatching the kid up and depositing him on the sidewalk outside - I calmly walked around the table, picked up the bread plate and knife, murmered my apologies to (all together now) the paying customer, and marched back to the service bar to get clean ones. Ones that hadn't just been hijacked by a 3 year old of unknown personal hygeine. (But we all know how clean 3 year olds are, don't we? Which is to say: not very. In truth, they are filthy little beasts who don't wipe their behinds correctly, pick their nose indiscriminantly, shove their hands in their pants with regularity, and rarely wash with soap. So make sure you always wash up after interacting with one of these creatures. Dirtier than garden gnomes, they are.)
Sorry. Tangent. Ahem.
AS I WAS SAYING-
As I returned with the uncontaminated plate and knife, the mother was extending their interruption and self-centered rudeness, standing at the table (and I just want to reiterate - the paying customer's table) hugging her precious little angel to reassure him that everything was just fine and no one was upset with him, while "apologizing" in the way that translates to "I am so sorry if he bothered you, he is just such a free spirit and doesn't know any better. Say you're sorry sweetheart."
I think the person who was really sorry in this scenario was the guy who's evening was being so rudely interrupted, and I almost said so - but at this point she had the sense to skedaddle, and I certainly didn't want to delay their departure. So while I really did have to restrain myself, I did not drag them bodily from the table and lock the door behind them.
But I now have a strict "no tricycle" policy. To keep out the riff raff.
8 hours ago