June 9, 2014


       We had the misfortune to spend three hours at a Bar & Grill in Surprise, Arizona recently, and it’s not a mistake we’ll ever be repeating, unlike the food.
       This joint is the 19th hole of the golf course at a retirement RV Resort.  Stij and I were doing some remodeling work at one of the homes over there, and because the restaurant was close by, we stopped in.
The place was deserted, so we figured we could get in and out quickly, as we had a great deal of work to do at the site.
“Let’s just get burgers—those will be quick.”
We sat.
We waited.
And waited.
And waited.
Finally, a 120-year-old waitress tottered over to our table, plunked down menus and tottered away to fetch us some ice water while we gave the bill of fare a once-over. 
We both wanted cheeseburgers.
We put the menus down.
And waited.
And waited.
And waited.
Just before we turned to stone, Methuselah’s wife managed to find her way back to us to take our order. She didn’t ask us how we wanted our burgers cooked, and we chalked that up to E Coli fears.  Perhaps they cook them all well-done as a matter of course, we reasoned—some places do.  We normally like them cooked medium, but better to avoid E coli.
So, we waited.
During this wait time, I was able to recite every poem that Poe, Coleridge AND Wordsworth ever wrote.
Finally, the waitress appeared in the distance, headed our way, orders in hand.
“If she moves any slower, people are going to come by and start harvesting her organs,” Stij said.
She put the plates down, then went off to get our French fries.
The burgers were so charred that it seemed more appropriate to pray and scatter their ashes than to consume them.
“How are your burgers?” she asked when she brought the fries.
“Suitable for filling potholes,” I replied.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, “Do you want to send them back?”
“Yes, we do, but we’ll just have to eat them.  We don’t have another 45 minutes to wait for replacements.”
“Oh, well, I’m sorry,” she said, shrugging her shoulders and wambling off.
“I certainly hope they’re going to adjust our bill—I’d almost rather eat my socks than this.”
“You may want to,” Stij said through his first bite. “You’d like them better.
I took my own bite. “Oh, God!  Pass the ketchup, mustard, relish and anything else I can use to kill the taste.”
Keep in mind that we were paying for this.
Next to visit our table, the ‘chef.’
“Was there a problem with your food?” she asked.
In answer, Stij opened his bun and displayed the blackened hockey puck within.
“How did you want them cooked?” she asked, like this was the only normal way to have them.
“Cooked, yes, cremated, no.”
“Did you tell your waitress how you wanted them done?”
“No, and she didn’t ask.  We assumed that you did everything well-done, not well-beyond-the-pale.  Well-done ought to still have moisture and flavor, yes?”
“Well, sorry.”   Clearly angry, she left.
Apparently, the ‘chef’ then gave the waitress a talking to, because she appeared next.
Please, if you want your food cooked in a certain way, you need to tell me!’ she exclaimed in an exasperated tone, then huffed away.
I looked at Stij.  “Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t SHE supposed to ask if we forget to tell her?  And if she doesn’t ask, isn’t the ‘chef’ supposed to send her back to find out, rather than take a wild guess that burned shoe leather would be the way to go?”
“Yep.  Apparently, this is all our fault.”
“What’d we ever do to them?  Jesus, if our experience is any indication, they seem to hate their customers here, don’t they?”
“Evidently, we interrupted their nap time and everyone is a little bit cranky,” Stij said. “We just won’t come back here again.”
“I don’t even want to drive by here again!”
Next, we got the bill.
No adjustment. 
We paid $20 for awful food that would be reminding us of the experience for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, until we got home and slugged down some bicarb.
While we watched a movie that later that night, Stij said, “I’ll say one thing for that restaurant, though.”
“Really? And what's that?”
“It makes your cooking look pretty damned good.”
I’d have smacked him if it hadn’t been true.






  1. How awful! I did that once and learned that an empty dining room is the first clue. Well written and funny - since it wasn't me.

    1. Good point about the empty dining room. I'll have to keep that in mind--thanks!