• Miles O'Neal

Nappy Headed Thing

A bit over a year after I moved to Austin, my twin brother[1] Jon and I went to a local restaurant to eat. We were seated at a table in the corner. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, servers had passed us by to wait on other tables several times. Nobody had brought us water or asked about drinks. We couldn't flag anyone down. We discussed leaving, but on principle decided to stay. We would wait until the place closed if necessary.

Up to this point we were just two normal-looking customers awaiting service, but eventually we felt we had to take action. "Keep Austin Weird." Our city's unofficial motto comes naturally to Jon and me. We built a shaky tower with the salt, pepper, and sweetener containers; it sprouted forks and knives. We put our napkins on our heads. We eventually wore our menus as hats and used the napkins like bandito bandana masks over our noses and mouths.

We'd see servers looking our way, even discussing us. But in the words of Deep Purple, no one came. After almost exactly an hour since our arrival, two of the servers flagged down a manager, nodded their heads our way, and spoke in hushed tones. The manager looked at us for a few seconds before walking over, stern-faced. "Is there a problem, gentlemen, or are you just hoping to annoy people?"

Jon and I took turns responding (this also came naturally). "Yes, sir, there is a problem."

"We got here an hour ago, before your restaurant got busy."

"We were seated promptly and courteously."

"And no one has been by since."

"We didn't start drastic measures to get attention for about twenty minutes."

"But we still haven't even been offered water."

The manager looked uncomfortable. "I'll be right back." He returned within two minutes, carrying two glasses of water, with a server in tow. "I am very sorry, gentlemen. We changed the table charts last night, and apparently all three servers with adjoining tables thought you were someone else's customers. They all agree you didn't ... get silly for quite some time. We are very sorry."

The food was delicious. They comped the meals and brought us free desert as well. We never had problem before or after this visit.

Pro tip: Even in a case like this, tip your server. It was an honest mistake, and our server took excellent care of us. I'm fairly certain he wasn't even supposed to be our server; I saw him waiting on two tables across the restaurant. I think we got their best that afternoon.

NOTES [1] From a different mother in a different city in a different year.

Image mogrified from Carl Bloch's "In a Roman Osteria", in the public domain. Text copyright 2019 Miles O'Neal, Round Rock, TX. All rights reserved.

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