Monday, September 03, 2007

One score and fifteen years ago...

I turned 35 over the weekend. The wife and I celebrated by leaving Tri-Metro and driving to a larger town equipped with an Outback, where we feasted on Aussie Fries, steaks, and a giant can of Fosters. It was great.

At the end of the meal, our waitress came over and asked if we were too full for dessert. I looked to the wife to see if she was going to give me the excuse necessary to order something wicked involving fried apples, but she just shrugged and said, "It's your birthday, do what you want."

"Oh, it's your birthday?" the waitress asked.

"Er... yeah," I said reluctantly. I'd not intended for the waitress to learn it was my birthday. Giving out knowledge such as that to wait staff is a dangerous thing in my book because it often leads to loud singing of specialized restaurant celebratory songs by entire flocks of them. Sure, it might net me a free dessert of some sort, but it really isn't worth it to have to sit through something like that. It's not that I'm embarrassed of the attention; I simply HATE loud interruptions of any kind when I'm trying to dine peacefully and find these kinds of stupid "customer friendly" displays unbearable when directed at anyone, but especially at me. Nothing burns me more than sitting down to a nice quiet meal only to have it interrupted by multiple choruses of "It's your BIRTHDAY BIRTHDAY BIRTHDAY and we're here to celeBRATE! So on your BIRTHDAY BIRTHDAY BIRTHDAY here's a f**king piece of CAKE!" (I say multiple choruses, because it's never just one; if some jackass has a birthday and gets that treatment, suddenly there are at least two more that have to have it too.)

So I sat there and awaited the onslaught of obnoxiousness.

A few minutes later, our waitress returned alone and placed an envelope on the table.

"Happy birthday" she said quietly.

I opened the envelope to find it was a simple Outback birthday card signed by the entire wait staff, wishing me a happy birthday. No song, no fuss, and no clutching of conveniently-large steak-knives necessary. Okay, there wasn't a gift certificate in there like I'd hoped, but in effect the card itself was a gift certificate. It was a "Get-out-of-Hellacious-Song-Free" card.

When the waitress returned with the check we told her that we greatly appreciated the card as opposed to the usual song. She said that it was a new policy instituted only a few weeks ago. If I'd not had the good fortune to be born so late in the summer, I might not have escaped unscathed.

So, in addition to fantastic steaks and cheesy bacony fried potatoes, Outback now makes my Christmas card list for ditching the woefully unnecessary choral numbers. Thank you sirs and madams of the Outback management for your wisdom.


Christina said...

Now I know where I'm going for my birthday!

To this day, I credit my non-drinking to the fact that I got extremely smashed during my brother's 21st birthday (in my defense I have an extremely low tolerance so one drink plus no food knocked me out) and I missed the Embarrassing Birthday Song because I was in the bathroom trying not to puke.

Anonymous said...

In case you ever visit the land of Oz a few hints. Aussies do not eat 'fries' we eat 'hot chips', not to be confused with 'chips' the snack which comes out of a packet (I think you call those potato crisps?) Also Fosters is an export beer for the reason no Aussies drink it, I recommend Coopers if it is on the menu next time. Good to hear you got an Aussie experience.. I read your blog and public liberries are just the same in Australia, with the added bonus of clients walking in covered in beach sand.

An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.