I decided to stop in the village yesterday and treat myself to lunch and a glass of wine. Big mistake.
But to backtrack a little. It was Friday. My car had been boosted twice in just over a week and I was pretty sure the battery was on its last legs. Five years ago I had bought it at Canadian Tire with an extended warranty. I checked out the paperwork and headed in to town to get the work done free.
Yes, indeed, it was dead. Yes, they would replace it ... almost free.
The waiting room at the Carling location is large and open concept. A television whirrs in the background making it difficult to do much more than watch it or the people around you. If the show was representative of CTV programming I fear for the future of the nation. Several cooks were preparing food for the Super Bowl. I had just read a couple of articles in The Citizen about the fact that Canadians have nearly reached the BMI of their SuperSize cousins in the States. Watching the food preparation on-screen, I understood why.
The first two cooks were preparing ENORMOUS sandwiches in which they stuffed mounds of sauerkraut, smoked meat, and french fries ... yes ... french fries. I guess the idea was to produce a dish that could be hand held and complete. The problem was that the top piece of bread kept falling off.
The larger of the cooks settled it back on and then licked her fingers. When it fell off again she used the same fingers to settle it back on its precarious perch.
I thought about the 500 pound woman I had just read about who is encouraging us all to embrace obesity, about restaurant meal preparation, about germs, and turned away from the tv.
I concentrated on the people in the room, none of whom weighed 500 pounds or seemed inclined to reach that goal by eating 10,000 calorie sandwiches while slouching about on a couch this weekend.
One was telling the service personnel that he was bringing a suit against someone because so many unnecessary repairs had been done on his vehicle. He had long lists and photos. The staff seemed nervous and exceedingly polite.
An older man was told told that he needed to have something done to his vehicle instead of just having over $900 worth of tires installed because his old tires had worn unevenly. He refused.
One young and very pregnant woman made several trips to the washroom and then sat sniffling and playing with her I-phone.
A young couple teased one another and romped on their chairs like frisky puppies.
The service manager announced that my car was ready and I headed home, stopping to visit Tammy who is recovering from very painful surgery and is not a happy camper.
By the time I got to Wakefield I was hungry and wanted a nice glass of wine.
I remembered reading the following in the Wakefield News:
LE HIBOU IS OPEN AGAIN!
We've all had a good break and have re-opened with a new menu (and still some old favorites). Hope to see you out -- we missed our village.
I decided to stop at Le Hibou. I talked to the owner, sat down and she brought me the new menu. I made my choice ... and then waited. For half an hour, I waited. The owner seemed distracted and there were no waiters in sight, just a young man peeling potatoes or something in the kitchen. Finally I left and went over to Rutherford's and sat down there.
The waiter arrived promptly and I decided I had made the right decision, even though there would be no glass of wine as they are not licenced. The food, however, is excellent ... local, reasonable and tasty.
There was a family of five sitting at the next table ...one of those families that somehow take over a restaurant. You know, the ones who make it impossible for other customers to carry on conversations because their presence is so insistent. Oh well, I thought, I will read. Even that wasn't easy because the noise level escalated and the two younger children (about 10 and 12) got into an argument. The parents made no real attempt to de-escalate things. They just got louder themselves. Patient and accepting ... but louder. Now I was listening to loud kids arguing and even louder parents showing just what good parents they were by maintaining their calm.
Suddenly the little girl screeched, first at her parents, then at her brother, and then she threw a piece of chicken breast at him.
It did not hit him, however; it hit me.
"Hey!" I yelled in my best old teacher voice.
The parents finally began to act as they should have from the beginning. They took control.
The first thing they did was send the two younger children from the table to cool off, and told them to apologize to me.
The boy dashed past my table smirking.
The girl followed him muttering "excuse me" as she rushed past.
The mother insisted that she pick up the chicken and apologize properly.
She hunted for it. I pointed to it now sitting on the chair beside me. She muttered, "I'm sorry," and ran after her brother. I said to her retreating back, "I hope you don't usually act this way in restaurants."
Everything became very quiet and I returned to my book.
Five minutes later the rest of their food had arrived (enough to feed a Haitian village) and the father went out to search for the kids. He brought them back and the entire family began to behave the the way one expects people to behave in a restaurant ... quietly ... not disturbing the peace ... having respect for other diners.
Too bad it took a flying piece of chicken and a grumpy old woman to make them realize that a restaurant is a public place and people ought to do their best to ensure that they and their children do not intrude on the enjoyment of others.