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10 Oct

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As a vegetarian living in remote(ish) NY State, going out to dinner means choosing between three Italian(ish) places.

Basically, it’s battle of the sauces.

Until now.

Having eaten at dubious-looking places during my “salad days,” which is a peculiar expression given that salads are often the most expensive items on the menu, I am currently basing my dining choices on which restaurant is least likely to linguistically offend me.

For example: if I ask my waitstaff for a glass of water and s/he replies with “not a problem”- strike one.  My theory is that if there is a problem with bringing a glass of water to the table, either s/he is in the wrong profession or there’s a plumbing problem of such enormity, the entire restaurant is doomed to hell.  (Or at least the CDC.  When it reopens.)

Should the server inquire whether I am “still working on that?”- strike two.  Let us, in this instance, assume that I am eating slowly and chewing thoroughly by choice, that the chef’s skills are laudable which, in turn, prompt me to stop eating and set down my fork to savor my entrée.  Having waitstaff swoop in and ask if I am done muscling my way through my meal does not speak well for the food.  Or the workers’ opinions of the food.  Or what kids today consider “work.”  When I was their age, waiting tables was what I did between my two other jobs.  “Eating” was what I did while driving to those jobs.

(It is understood that any establishment with word mash-ups, continents, punctuation marks, animals or abbreviations in its name is a linguistic nightmare to be avoided.  You won’t find me noshing at Giraffestralian Xpress Riverbed Dinin’ Factory Experience! for example.)

The last strike is not even a criticism of my neighborhood restaurants but, rather, a criticism of the patrons of my neighborhood restaurants.  (You knew there was criticism coming, though, right?  I did.)

Assuming that everyone is seated with baseball caps removed, when the waiter or waitress who has served you all night, the one who is working hard for tips but also working so that you can enjoy a lovely evening, asks if there is anything else that he or she can bring you, do not reply with: “I’m good” because a: the waiter has not asked how you are (PS: the correct reply would be “I’m well”), b: the waiter has also not inquired about your ability to calculate percentages (at which point you could say “I’m good”), but c: I have my doubts about “b” given that you need to be reminded to take off your baseball cap while eating dinner.

On second thought, I’ll just have a bowl of cereal.

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