How’s My Meal? Don’t Ask.

When your waiter or waitress asks, “How is everything?”, and everything is not OK, should you say so?

I say yes. Honey says no.

“Just say, ‘Fine,'” she said.

“But they asked. They want to know.”

“No, they don’t. They’ll just think you’re an old grouch.”

Honey sees my honest reply as confrontational, and she hates confrontation. She won’t return store purchases for the same reason.

“The clerk at the return counter doesn’t take it personally. It’s not their money,” I argue.

“I don’t care. I won’t do it.”

If it was my restaurant, I would want patrons to tell me what seemed to them less than satisfactory about the food or service.

There was the time I questioned why the skin of my baked potato was encrusted with salt. The waiter patiently explained that salt makes the skin crunchy and the insides fluffy. I love a crunchy potato skin, so I welcomed the information, and thanked the waiter.

“You see? I learned something,” I told my wife, who had witnessed the exchange in silent humiliation.

“I hate you,” she said.

SON WORSHRAG agrees with his mother about keeping mum. And, it always seems to happen that it is the three of us at a restaurant when I find something amiss with my meal.

There was the cold Reuben sandwich incident, and a blackened chicken breast that was saltier than the Great Salt Lake. I like salt, I almost always add salt, so if it’s too salty for me, it’s too salty.

Honey and Worshrag tell family members that Dad must be watched closely at restaurants so that they won’t have to apologize to staff. I have swallowed bad food and reasonable complaints rather than validate their stereotype.

One day, however, I turned the tables on Honey and Worshrag at a steak-and-buffet restaurant.

I love chili, but am admittedly picky about what I call good chili. On the buffet was a tureen labeled “chicken chili.” It was chicken in a thin white sauce, with beans and vegetables. Good, but a bit short on actual chicken.

“This is more like chicken soup,” I said at our table after sampling it. “Maybe I should say something.”

“Don’t,” Honey warned darkly. Worshrag sighed deeply, and I dropped the subject.

A LITTLE WHILE LATER, I came back from the buffet and announced, “I did say something to the waitress about the chili.”

“Dad, you didn’t,” said Worshrag, looking daggers at me.

Honey was about to speak when our waitress appeared.

“I talked to the manager and he is very sorry about your experience,” she began.

“It’s not a big deal,” I blustered. “I just thought the chili was a little thin.”

“We take customer satisfaction very seriously,” the waitress said, a grim expression on her face. “My manager said there will be no charge for your meal.”

Worshrag got out of his chair and fled to the buffet. Honey’s face had turned as white as the chili.

“No, no, that’s not necessary. We don’t want you to do that,” I sputtered to the waitress.

This exchange continued for what seemed an eternity to Honey but probably lasted a minute more, before I dropped the bomb.

Turning to my wife with a wide grin, I confessed. “I put her up to it. She’s a very good actress, don’t you think?”

(A book of 50 vintage Fred Miller columns, “Worshrag, Shark and Seed,” is available in East Liverpool at City Hospital gift shop, the Hot Dog Shoppe, and Pottery City Antiques, and at fredmilleratlarge.com, email pacyberguy@gmail.com)

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