'After coffee I wanted to get the bill. Ten minutes later I still wanted to get the bill but alas I was unable to make eye-contact, despite my best neck-stretching and eye-bulging moves.'
I don't like to moan, really I don't, but sometimes it's just feels good to let it out.
The thing is pub service has got so much better that when it is poor these days it really stands-out. This latest experience wasn't tremendously awful but with a little care it could have been so much better.
My colleague and I were looking forward to eating at a pub that has such a good reputation that booking in advance is required. I did just that and was only slightly put out when I was welcomed and taken to a table that had been reserved for 'Natt'.
Fair enough, 'N' and 'M' do sound very similar so I can understand why this may have got lost in translation when I called to book. But isn't Natt a girl's name and don't I sound like a man?
Ego slightly bruised, I sat down at Natt's table and had a chat before a member of the team came to see us?
'Are you staying for lunch?' she demanded, rather than inquired.
'Yes, but we are just waiting for one more,' I offered, smiling. 'We booked,' I added, helpfully pointing to the terracotta tile that had 'Natt' neatly written across it.
She nodded and mooched off without so much as a 'would you like a drink at all sir?'
As we were in a pub and quite thirsty we did indeed want a drink, so my colleague took it upon himself to head to the bar to get them in. I tried to catch the eye of 'Miss 'are you staying for lunch?' in a bid to make her feel guilty about his long trek to the bar (six steps maximum) but the look of disdain on her face suggests I was probably just looking a little bit creepy.
The third member of our team arrived and before he had so much as a chance to shake our hands and settle into his seat the waitress wanted to know if we were ready to order.
We were not, but she did manage to take a drinks order on this occasion.
The three of us got to talking, as is the way over a lunch meeting, and, approximately one minute after her initial inquiry about our being ready to order she asked us again.
'Not quite,' I said reaching for the menu for the first time.
At least that is what I think I said. The look of disgust on the girl's face suggested that perhaps I had accidentally made some inappropriate comment about a close family member of hers, which I really don't remember doing at all.
'I'll let you know when we are ready,' I said to make her load more bearable.
Five minutes later we were indeed ready so I looked-up to find our waitress, and there she was,by the bar, chatting to a chef, or someone who had decided to wear a hat and natty trousers. I smiled, nodded and raised my eyebrows in her direction but despite her gaze occasionally drifting in our direction I just couldn't seem to make eye contact.
It was if that inappropriate comment that I hadn't made was still bugging her and she had decided to avoid my gaze.
I got up and went to get her attention, which in my view should never happen in a place that has pretensions of being a restaurant, and told her that we were ready to order our food.
When it came it was actually really good, which made me almost forget about the sloppy service. After coffee I wanted to get the bill. Ten minutes later I still wanted to get the bill but, alas, I was unable to make eye-contact, despite my best neck-stretching and eye-bulging moves.
'Oh Lord, she isn't blind is she?' I genuinely thought to myself for a moment. Then I realised that she had been quick enough to see when we had sat down initially so her vision was not in question.
I got up again to tell her that I wanted to give the pub my money before leaving, and eventually I settled-up. So that was twice I had to get up to get her attention and once my colleague had to go to the bar.
Not great, but not so awful as to take up any of my time complaining about it: the food was good, she might have been having a shocker and I couldn't really be faffed.
Instead I opted to complain in the old fashioned way by not leaving a tip. She just missed out on some extra cash and the pub may well miss out on my custom next time I am in the area.