The angry, red faced woman looks frantically around the dining room from her perch on table 61, like a blond bird trapped to its ass in quick sand. I notice because I’m in charge and that’s part of what I do, I notice things. My body tenses because I know that I’m about to be subjected to a little of this nasty woman’s outrage, I’m just not yet sure why. One of my waiters, a pleasant young guy named Cory is leaning sheepishly over the table a look of apologetic sadness written across his face. “I want to see a manager, RIGHT NOW!” The woman demands in a shrill voice.
I paste a professional smile onto my face and amble reluctantly over,
“Is everything okay?” I ask hopefully.
“No, everything is not okay.” She states unequivocally and looks across at her husband. I spare him a cautious glance to see if he is friend or foe and am rewarded with a hairy eyeball.
“Oh?” I say.
“Look at this!”
I look down at the $3.99 side Caesar salad in front of her, and there hanging over a lettuce leaf next to her fork is a long strand of blond hair. I take it all in and look back at her, she has a full head of long blond hair. I close my eyes and think about the cooks in my kitchen the guys who made her salad, they’re all African Americans with short Afros. The only other guy who would have touched her plate was a Mexican food runner with a shaved head.
My reverie is interrupted by the shrill voice again, “What are you going to do about this?”
It’s her hair, I know it is. “I’m so sorry,” I hear myself say, “I’ll get you a fresh salad and take it off the bill.”
“Is that it?” She demands.
“You ought to pick up the whole check, that’s disgusting.” Her husband chimes in.
I want to say to him that he should know, that he sleeps next to it every night and wakes up next to it every morning, but I’m no longer who I once was. Now I’m afraid they’ll complain to corporate so I say;
“How about I buy you guys a couple of beers?”
The wife nods, letting me know its not perfect but she’ll take it.
How did I get here? What have I done?
– J.R. Locke