rubin’s rant

1/ Being Served Water in Restaurants

I have reservations to eat out this weekend, at a real restaurant, and they better get it right

If one more waiter comes over to my table and pours my bottle of fucking water into my glass I’m gonna take a fork and kill someone. I don’t know why this one particular restaurant customer service event pushes me off the deep end. I’m not usually prone to violence. I ordered a bottle of fizzy water, I can pour it in my own effing glass when I would like some more. Put that down and step away from the table.

My friends tell me I’m over-reacting, and of course I am, but when challenged to describe WHY this pisses me off I have a few reasons. Five come to mind immediately, and I may have some more by the time I’m done getting these down.

First, I’m sitting with friends who do not want as much water as I do. They have drinks. I don’t drink. I drink fizzy water and when I order a large bottle I very well might drink it. But of course everyone has a glass, and everyone will take some whether they particularly want it or not. That’s fine. I don’t mind. They’ll have a couple sips during the evening. But I’m on my third glass of water and there might be a fourth — except, you take my water and use it to fill their glasses to the brim, when they pretty much had exactly what they wanted — and now the half bottle is depleted and I have to order another bottle, which is too much. Do you expect me to believe that you want to serve me water out of a sense of altruism, without a hint of knowing you’ll drive up profits in your stupid restaurant, maybe 1%, maybe 3%, I don’t know.

But I understand that the simple “wash-rinse-repeat” instruction was worth billions to the shampoo industry.

Let each of us make a decision for ourselves about our consumption, and not force waste.

Second, I’m alone at the restaurant and it’s the end of the night and I’ve only had 1/3 of this $12 bottle of water you’ve offered me. I don’t like being cheap, but I also dislike being wasteful — and if there’s a pretty full bottle here, I’m going to take it home with me when I’m done with dinner. But wait. I finish my glass of water, almost force it down — but it’s good to hydrate, right? — and while I’m thinking about how I’m gonna cork this thing you swoop in and fill my empty glass. Goddamit, before I realize it the bottle is less than half full, and it starts to feel stupid saving a glass of water to take home. So I drink a bit more. I didn’t want that. Now I’m really screwed, just sitting here having water when I’m ready to go… I leave the bottle when I get up. And I’m irritated.

Third, sometimes this is not fizzy water but wine and it works in reverse. I don’t drink much and I don’t drink often. My friends really enjoy their wine and consequently when we get a bottle for the table I’m going to have less then half a glass and let everyone else divide the balance. The reason above, about making individual decisions about consumption, still applies.

Fourth, when I do want to drink wine I like to know how much I’m drinking. I don’t want to drink too much, and if you keep filling my glass up its very hard to assess how much I’m drinking: everytime I look up it’s still a full glass and I’ve been sipping it for an hour. “Fuck you” I think as I sorta stumble down to my car and try to decide if I should drive or not.

Fifth. The fizzy water is a luxury, its expensive. It’s something I allow myself from time to time, but I don’t want to be unappreciative. It sits in my glass during dinner, and maybe I don’t gulp it down like it was, well, water. It’s only water, perhaps, but I sip it, with the smaller bites I take sometimes. Mindful consumption. Then you lumber into my space and splash the water all around while I’m trying to irrigate the Negev.

Sixth. You asshats don’t always have a good system to know that I’m drinking fizzy water, and you’re wandering around with pitchers of tap water and refilling everything in front of you without thinking. This is a problem waiting to happen… and maybe once a month the half glass of fizzy water I was meting out through the entré gets watered down with tap water, and an apology. Sometimes you bring me a full new bottle, which is frequently a fine apology, but other times just wasteful. And the fact is many restaurants don’t do that. Seething a little, I end up drinking the bland concoction through gritted teeth.

Seventh. Yes, I’m up to seven, although this was contributed by my wine-drinking pals: you’re sitting at a table dividing a bottle between you and your friend. You drink slowly and your friend drinks a little faster. When they refill your friend’s more-empty glass, the net result is they get a bunch more wine than you do. Or, perhaps worse, you have to start drinking a little faster to keep up, which you didn’t want to do. You’re trying to be mindfully equitable with your fancy wine consumption, and the waiter thwarts it at every turn…

Eighth. Covid. Just keep away until you really need to be here.

So that’s it. For now. I think my peevishness is justified. I see him coming for the table and I swear to God I’m gonna loose it. Is it really just me?

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Living a creative life, a student of high magic, and hopefully growing wiser as I age. • Ex-Lucasfilm, Netflix, Adobe. • Here are my stories and photos.

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