Just Presidential

February 19, 2007

It’s about 21 degrees outside today and I’m listening to the heat whistle while thanking president Lincoln for this ‘free’ day to catch up on some writing and some housework.

I’m positive that Lincoln didn’t have me in mind when he created the Internet or when he established his birthday as an occasion for automobile sales, or even when he brought the beard into fashion.

But sitting here unshaven, I can’t help but tick off in my mind the freedoms all of us enjoy because of our citizenship.

Take for instance the ability to choose a table at a restaurant.

Where I live, there are some great breakfast joints. And because breakfast is THE meal of the day for me (no, I eat other meals, but breakfast is far and away my favorite), it’s important to have a breakfast place you can trust.

This trust is fairly straightforward. They need to know how to cook an egg; how to keep French toast from getting soggy; not to serve fruit and yogurt together (have you ever enjoyed that amorphous film that develops on the top of the yogurt when fresh fruit has been sitting on top for a minute or two – it’s tasty!); how to pay enough attention to your needs; and how to keep your teapot full of hot water and fresh teabags.

Well, Stars is that restaurant. They‚Äôve got a perfect location overlooking Hingham Harbor and I try to have breakfast there at least once a week on my Free Fridays (more on Free Fridays in an upcoming blog entry or BOC podcast). I frequently bring friends there on the weekend and it‚Äôs the ‚Äòsafe‚Äô place to dine whenever you don‚Äôt want to worry about the food, the service or the venue…MOST of the time.

You see about 12 years ago they had a waitress on staff who would persistently get your order wrong, forget that you were in her section, take FOREVER to bring you the check, and she was persistently friendly. She’s no longer working at Stars, but it took them about nine years to figure out that people were avoiding her section whenever possible.

In the past four years, the situation has appeared again.

I don’t know if Stars is part of a public service program to bring morons – strike that – SLOW, INEPT MORONS into the foodservice business, but they’ve accomplished it again.

The waitress who is now on staff, and who I vigilantly try to avoid, does not speak clearly, has messed up about 94% of my orders and is physically slow.

The last time I was in the restaurant, she had crumbs of food all around her mouth – making it so appetizing for me to think about food – and she brought me a lump of grits that was so solid and cold I could lift the whole chunk with my spoon.

Let’s not debate whose fault bad food is – a good waiter or waitress should check the order before carting it out to the customer – but let’s certainly debate our freedom to expect a certain outcome when we sign a silent contract with a restaurant by walking through the door and sitting down.

Maybe that’s really what I’m trying to get at today. Maybe waiters and waitresses harken back to a time when servitude was the norm. A time before Lincoln had his way. And maybe this servitude too should be abolished, and nobody should have to wait on anyone else.

But until that comes to pass, I’d at least like to free this one waitress from her service role. Then my breakfasts will be free at last from the indignities. And isn’t that really what Lincoln stood for?

Now go buy a car and make this country strong again. I’ll talk to you again during the next Bowl of Cheese.