Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reservations On The Line

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

My younger son is turning 20 soon, so I asked him where he would like to celebrate his birthday.  As usual he wanted to finalize his plans with his friends first, before he could think about our small family dinner. He thought carefully about selecting a continental restaurant that everyone would enjoy, and left me to make the reservations.

The woman who answered the phone placed me on hold to see if she had any openings for that evening. She apologized profusely for the wait, before asking how many guests were in our party. I told her 6 people for 7:00. When she asked for my name, it showed up on her computer, as we've been there before, and she asked if we were going for a special occasion.  When I told her that it was for my son's birthday, she was very appreciative and asked if there was anything special she could do to accommodate us.  Soon she would be very sorry that she asked.

The restaurant is divided into three rooms, so I requested one of the smaller quieter rooms.  I also asked for a round table, as it is more conducive to conversation. After taking copious notes, the cheerful manager asked if there was anything else she could do for me. Then I remembered to mention that my mom uses a walker and to make sure that the aisle is wide enough for her to get through en route to our table. By this time, my son had already taken a shower and left the house.

Now the manager's only concern was how to condense the instructions. She pleasantly asked, "Would it be okay if I left out the part about the walker, as it might bring up other issues?  Oh and if your mom enters near the restrooms, there will be three steps up to the dining area. Will she be able to go up the steps, or should I make a note of it?"

I pointed out that if she entered from the vestibule, she could avoid the stairs altogether. She concurred; silently wondering how I knew the layout better than she did, when she was stationed at the hostess stand in the middle of the restaurant. Then she inquired if I would mind if she didn't mention the part about the stairs either. I said that I would leave it up to her; silently wondering who exactly would be reading this report and if it would be part of my permanent record.

As we were getting ready to say our goodbyes, she confirmed that our reservation was for 7 people at 6:00. I gently reminded her that it was for 6 people at 7:00.  She apologized and thanked me for the 100th time.  To be on the safe side, my mom will be sporting her track shoes as we will be stopping in the night before for a test run.  I never realized that's why they have rehearsal dinners.


  1. You'll end up with a table for 60 on the patio at 6:00.

  2. Just think. That gal on the phone was probably the "most qualified" person in the restaurant to handle your requests. Hope you guys have a super dinner.

  3. I'd like to be a fly on the wall to see what reservations has been made.


  4. Great last sentence about "rehearsal dinners." It sounds as though, in her ambitious efforts to simplify things, she was complicating matters (or maybe just confusing herself).
    I hope the birthday celebration's a great one with no glitches.

  5. @mbj/Delores - In that case, you and all of your campers are invited too!

    @Susan - I"ll just be happy if they don't spit in our food at this point! Thanks Susan!

    @Yvonne - I'm hoping that they don't pull the flies right off of the wall and toss them with our salad!

    @Robyn - I do have to give her credit for trying so hard. I just don't want to be around if she spontaneously combusts! Julie

  6. The reality is she probably didn't write anything down because she isn't on duty that night and will let someone else take the fall for it......Just being cynical....:) Hope you enjoy your dinner with your "no longer a teenager" boy. Welcome to life as a parent of 20 somethings...... Chris H

  7. Chris, I think you hit the nail on the head! We need to get together to compare notes! Thanks Chris and I hope you're able to get some fun in before school starts. Julie

  8. Hi Julie .. sounds just awful .. I'd have put the phone down and gone elsewhere .. I just hope the dummy run went well .. and that you all enjoyed your dinners and your son has a lovely birthday time - fitting in dinner with Mum and Dad whenever able!! Cheers - enjoy the time - Hilary

  9. Perhaps you were her first caller on a new job. But I hope the celebration was special and the dinner very tasty. A rehearsal is what we always need. :)


  10. This is something I never worry about since I don't ever eat in restaurants that take reservations. At least you gave the restaurant employee a challenge to help make her think a bit. Nothing like a good brain workout now and then.

    Tossing It Out

  11. Haha! Sounds like half my conversations!

    Good luck with the dinner... keep us posted.

  12. @Manzie - I'd hate to have to deal with someone like me on my very first day! Thanks Manzie!

    @Lee - I hope she's not contemplating quiting after all that! It is fun to be spontaneous and just walk into places, but this restaurant is always very busy.

    @Talli - Things would've been a lot easier if you just sent over your sheperd's pie! Thanks Talli! Julie

  13. Sounds as though she had hearing dyslexia. That probably happens more times than any of us realize.

    Hope your evening went well despite the mix ups.

    Found your blog through "My Next 20 Years Of Living' blog.

  14. I hope it goes well. Stuff like that happens over the phone all the time. It's simply not the same as a face to face conversation.

  15. @Di - I never thought about "hearing dyslexia", but now that you mention it, I think many of my family members have it too! Thanks for visiting me! Julie

    @Angela - After all that, he changed his mind and we went to an Italian restaurant instead! I hope the manager was able to go on a nice vacation to recover from this whole experience! Julie

  16. I hate phoning to book a table at a restaurant. They always make me feel as if I'm a real nuisance to them. Hope you have a great meal out!

  17. And I hope it all went as planned! After all that, it would suck of she lost the reservation.

  18. @Rosalind - The woman was actually very pleasant, but you'd think I was planning a wedding, or bar mitzvah for the amount of time we spent on the phone! Thanks Rosalind!

    @Alex - The reservation wasn't lost, but we ended up changing restaurants. We will probably be banned for life!

  19. Yikes, sounds complicated. Too funny that you ended up going elsewhere after everything. It's always a chore for our whole family to go out. There are five of us kids, two of us are married, three of us have children, so on and so forth. Oh yes, plus my sort-of adopted brother and sister-in-law come, too. The throw their hands in the air and run screaming when they see us coming!

  20. So, was your table ready at 7? And did mom have to navigate the stairs? Hope it all all worked out ok. LOL - I loved your story.

  21. @Shannon - It is more difficult with a larger group! That's why I thought it was funny that it was such a big deal for the six of us! I did feel bad cancelling, but we ended up going for Italian. Thanks Shannon!

    @Rhonda - No stairs. The only drama was fighting over distributing the leftovers! Thanks Rhonda!