Chez hydration.

I’m a person of relatively few pet peeves. Most of the pet peeves I do have tend to revolve around common decency – manners like “please”, “thank you”, and “excuse me”, holding a door for someone if they happen to be entering right before or behind you, not interrupting people when they’re speaking, etc. (Even I have trouble with the last one – blame it on growing up in a family chock full of women who love to talk!)  Anyway, I just expect people to act civilized, and I’ve never been able to lower those expectations.

But sometimes…sometimes my pet peeves are a little on the silly side. We all have them. The things that irritate us more than they should, that can ruin a conversation or an evening or even a whole day.

Well, in my case, it’s a ruined meal.

I enjoy eating out. There’s something nice about relaxing with friends/family, enjoying a nice meal, and not having to cook or clean up after the fact. I don’t get to eat out as much as I’d like to, especially in recent years. So maybe that’s why my pet peeve has escalated to a fever pitch.

We got the chance to eat out not that long ago, and it was nice. It was nice until halfway through the meal, anyway – by then my food tasted terrible, I was cranky, and found myself wishing I could leave without paying.

It pretty much boils down to one thing.

Refill my damn drink already.

Okay, I warned you it was stupid.

But honestly, I am not one of those people who can wolf down an entire meal and then have a glass of water after the fact. I remember my grandmother always doing that, and it blew my mind. As she sat at the table to eat, she didn’t even have a glass of liquid next to her plate at all! Maybe it’s because I am easily dehydrated in the first place, but I drink like a fish. (And no, not the kind of drinking-like-a-fish you’re imagining. That only dehydrates me more, silly.)  I can’t enjoy a meal unless I drink tons and tons of water, tea, or soda with it. Period.

So when I eat out – especially at a place that serves heavy and/or salty food – I expect a drink refill. Depending on the size of the glass, I could easily down 3 or 4, but I’m satisfied with 2. That means ONE measley refill. Just one.

It’s all I ask!!

If I can’t get a refill, the meal is pretty much ruined for me. I start feeling sick, I lose interest in my food, and crankiness sets in.

Let’s be honest. Anyone who has eaten out in their life – and especially anyone who’s served before, like me – knows that there’s no excuse for not refilling a drink. At the least, a server should return to the table once after the food’s been served, to check in and ensure diners are satisfied. That’s at the very least. I’m not particularly fond of the “one-and-done”, myself. I think it shows a lack of desire to actually earn a good tip, and a disregard for the guest as a whole. But if a “one-and-done” is what I get, fine.

I tip well. I’ve worked in the industry, I know what it’s like – plus, I really do appreciate good service. Eating out is so enjoyable to me (when it’s done right), I want to make sure the server knows that I left pleased.

In a “one-and-done” situation, I leave a smaller tip. It’s still more than acceptable according to industry standards, but it’s less than I would normally leave. I guess it’s my way of consoling myself for feeling slightly put out.

However, in the situation of (God forbid!) nothing whatsoever after food is delivered, that server should count themselves lucky if they get a couple bucks. It makes me livid. There’s no excuse for this at all. It’s revolting. It ruins my evening, and yet I’m still expected to pay the same amount for the food as I would have been with a great server working my table?! Ugh. It makes me see red.

Not to sound petty and petulant, but if I wanted someone to just shove my food at me and then make me pay, I’d go to a fast food joint. Table service without “service” is just…like fast food without the ‘fast’.

Naturally, the “nothing whatsoever” is what happened on that one blissful evening when we were able to go out to eat recently. I realize the restaurant was busy, it was a casual, family-dining type place, and there was one server being overworked, but it still infuriated me. (C’mon, it wasn’t that big of a restaurant. I could see every other table from ours without even craning my neck!) She brought our food to the table and we never, ever saw her again. Not so much as a check brought to the table.

I tried not to be angry about it, but I was. Because no matter how hard I try to look at that type of thing from every angle, I can’t make it seem reasonable. We weren’t in an obscure part of the restaurant – in fact, we were the first table she walked by every single time she entered the dining room. She had to look directly at us as she walked out of the kitchen. By the time we left, I was wishing I’d counted the number of times she walked by our table without stopping. It had to have topped two dozen! We never got so much as a “how is everything?” or “can I get you anything else?”… just nuthin’.

Oh well. It’s not the end of the world. But for someone who really treasures meals out of the house, it was definitely the end of the meal…and the escalation of a formerly mild pet peeve into a major one.

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