Most were enjoying either wine or beer, and in fact I was the only one having just water. This particular restaurant makes it a practice to fill a glass of wine nearly full -- essentially two glasses’ worth, really -- which no one complained about. We’d made it through most of the main course, and I was already starting to slow down with my filet as others were finishing theirs.
That’s when a busboy collecting the plate of my friend sitting across from me clumsily knocked his still full glass of wine in my direction. Before I could blink my remaining food was in a puddle with the rest having squarely landed on my shirt and pants. I was soaked through, and more than a little dismayed as the pants I happened to be wearing (and liked) had been a Christmas gift from Vera.
I was more or less Carrie at the prom. And if it were possible for me to steam any harder I’m sure I might’ve set the restaurant on fire with my mind.
“Really?” said Vera to the busboy. His weirdly defensive reaction didn’t help matters much. “It’s not like I meant to!” he replied, instead of “I’m sorry” or some variation of that to me. Felt jarring, like someone delivering a supremely bad beat then ignoring the opponent’s plight to describe his own troubles.
Meanwhile the owner was nearly in tears as he gave us a discount on the meal, a generous gift certificate, and an offer to pay for dry cleaning. He even wanted to make me another steak, but I declined as I was already at the point where I couldn’t eat anymore. Appreciated it all, but to be honest I disliked even more being the center of everyone’s consternation.
I remembered working as a busboy myself for a couple of years during college, and while I couldn’t recall ever coming close to anything as mortifying as dumping a glass of wine on a customer, I’m sure I spilled some water and/or tea here and there and probably dropped a plate or three.
I think I kept relatively cool throughout, although I know I was simply unable to hide my frustration. The busboy did finally apologize, although that didn’t stop me from wincing every time he came around to fill water glasses thereafter.
Everyone was back to laughing by the end of the meal, including me, although I was eager to get home and out of my clothes. Turned out a few times through the washing machine was enough to save the pants and shirt, too.
All in all, then, I cashed out ahead.