This is a true story. And while I'm not proud of what I did, I'm not sorry either.
I was working a lunch shift around the holidays, when the restaurant is packed. Servers scurried about, bartenders jovially shook their cocktails and bussers dashed to and fro. The restaurant felt like the Nutcracker Ballet, every dancer doing their part.
And then they arrived. The coiffed, highlighted hair. The swollen shopping bags embossed with designer names. The real fur coats that feel less like a garment and more like a pet. Ladies who lunch.
Even approaching their table was a challenge. The 3-foot radius around it was littered with pricey parcels. But I stepped nimbly, positioned myself at the head of the table, cleared my throat, grinned and said hello.
Not an upward glance. The ladies were so engrossed in their own conversation they couldn't be bothered to so much as look my way, let alone express a preference for bottled vs. ice water.
I maneuvered away, thinking I'll just give them a few minutes to get settled. Ten minutes later my manager hissed, "Would you please go greet that table?" The ladies were still chatting, but I'd just politely but firmly interrupt for a moment, get their order and be on my way.
After another contortionist-style approach and another warm hello, the one nearest me stage-whispered, "Is she talking?" then collapsed into a fit of twittering hysteria. Okay. Fine. You're getting ice water, and you're not going to hear about the specials.
This behavior continued. The ladies refused to acknowledge me. They berated the bussing staff for clearing their plates too soon and berated them again for waiting too long to remove their dirty dishes. They complained to the manager that no one explained the menu to them and that they never heard about the specials, then complained that their lunch had been constantly interrupted by an overzealous server demanding to know how everything tasted.
When I was at the table, they didn't need anything; when I was busy at another table, they hooted and crowed that they needed salt and pepper, extra dressing, more water. Finally I snapped. They were holding up their half-empty water glasses, gesturing desperately like dehydrated lepers.
Stepping lightly, I moved from seat to seat, picking up each water glass and filling it to the brim. And I made sure their expensive, gold-stamped shopping bags were properly hydrated as well. Just a trickle, not enough to do any real damage, but right into the heart of the packages.
None of the ladies noticed a thing, but I left work happy despite their 10 percent tip. After all, nothing says "Happy holidays" like soggy wrapping paper and warped cardboard boxes.