Pretty early on in the stint, I started to notice that when the cooks got angry bad things happened to peoples’ food. It wasn’t uncommon for a returned steak to end up being cooked with a little extra, um, moisture—yeah, I’ll leave it at moisture. Other returned steaks had the opportunity of getting a quick marinade in the trash. Some returned steaks were “accidentally” dropped on the floor and then walked on about twenty times before being thrown back on the grill.
Now that nobody wants to eat out anymore, basically what I am getting at is that I should have known what kind of treatment my food would get if I caused problems at a restaurant. And yet.
For months, I had been watching commercials on television from a windshield replacement company. They promised to give every customer who got their windshield replaced 12 free meals at a local Mexican restaurant. And I wanted those 12 free meals. No, I needed those 12 free meals.
You have to know a few things about me to understand why those commercials were so appealing at that time. When my family went on vacation, my dad would load us all into the full-sized Chevy van and drive to the nearest Sam’s Club for lunch. And by lunch I mean whatever samples were being given away at Sam’s Club that day. Sure, if we were still hungry after partaking of all the samples, then my dad would buy us each a dollar Polish dog. My dad would also drive fifteen minutes out of our way just so we could get gas at the gas station that gave each customer a free corn-dog. Ever try to split one corn-dog between six people? Don’t bother. My father didn’t always choose to drive to the corn-dog gas station either. Sometimes he would drive fifteen minutes out of our way in the opposite direction, so all six of us could share a free ice cream cone from a different gas station.
These principles of cheapness were cultivated into my soul and 12 free meals at a Mexican restaurant seemed like the ultimate freebie.
One day my wish came true and we needed to get our windshield replaced. I got my coupons for those 12 free dinners. Oh yes, I did.
At our first opportunity, my wife and I headed to the Mexican restaurant to partake in those coupons. I walked in and showed the hostess the coupons, and told her that we would be getting our meals for free. The hostess quickly pointed to the fine print on the bottom of the coupon, basically relaying that the whole commercial was a scam. Well, that’s how my mind perceived what was happening anyway.
The hostess explained that only one coupon could be used per table—meaning we would have to pay for one meal and venture back to that crappy Mexican restaurant 11 more times and pay for 11 more meals just so I could use all 12 of the coupons. Nope. No way. I wasn’t going to have any of that. The commercial promised 12 free meals at that Mexican restaurant and I was going to get my 12 free meals. It was the principle of the thing.
As my wife stood by with a look of sheer embarrassment plastered on her face, I told the hostess to seat me and my wife at two separate tables and that we would each be using a coupon that night. Reluctantly, the hostess sat us at two separate booths and there we ate our free meals in silence.
I try not to think about what kind of special treatment our food received that night, but I’m positive it got a little extra attention. I, on the other hand, didn’t get much attention at all from my wife over the next few weeks.
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