Isn’t it a shame when something you have such fond memories of can no longer live up to the expectation that the memory has created? It makes sense I suppose. After all, our brains tend to filter out so many things that we don’t need or want to remember and it leaves us with this hazy selective memory of events, people and places. About thirteen years ago, I had a surprise birthday party at this Mexican restaurant called Tortilla Flats here in New York City. I was blindfolded after I got off the train and then walked for a couple of blocks all the way to my table inside the restaurant. Once the blindfold was removed, I was greeted by ten of my closest friends and a pitcher of margaritas. It was a great surprise and a terrific birthday. So on my birthday this Sunday, I decided to revisit the restaurant and try to recreate that perfect birthday experience. Epic failure, that.
When we arrived at Tortilla Flats, it was overflowing with customers. This was not unexpected since it was the Sunday night of a three day weekend. The host was overwhelmed with a mob of people clamoring for a table and the bar was overrun with sailors from Fleet Week who were in New York City with the sole purpose of getting trashed beyond belief. Nothing says Memorial day Weekend like a sailor in his whites puking on the corner of West 12th Street. The host finally greeted us by screaming, “Yeah, there’s a two-top over there. Go grab it!” Uh, okay. We squeezed past a a girl with big boobs and a tiny top and sat down. Our booth was next to the bar and as soon as we sat down, the arm of a sailor flung into our space as he leaned on a friend. “Dude, am so fucking trashed right now!” he said. Nice, sailor. The booth we were sitting at was wet and had two glasses of water on it and some plastic silverware. A grouchy looking waiter came up to us and said, “Do you need menus?” Okay, yes, we need menus. It’s kind of the custom in restaurants, right? Menus? We told him that we did and he stomped off to get them. I know what he was thinking. He thought that since we didn’t already have menus that we must have sat ourselves. I get it. Whatever. He brought the menus.
At this point, my partner asked him about the waters on the table. “Excuse me, but are these waters for us or are they from someone who was sitting here before us?”
“I have no idea,” said the waiter. Wait, was he giving us attitude?
“We were told to sit here,”I said.
“Well, I dunno,” he said with his arms crossed.
I responded. “What? We just wanted to know if this water is for us or if it’s used. The table is a little wet.”
“Well, I didn’t put ’em there. Do you want different waters? I’ll just go get you new waters.” He grabbed the glasses and stomped off again.
O. Hell. No. Is this asshole giving me attitude? Look, prick, I’m sorry you’re at work serving a bunch of drunk Marines on Memorial Day Weekend, but get over it. I already served a bunch of babies at brunch that morning so I too had to work when everyone else was out having a good time. You think I wanted to listen to that three year old scream and throw spoons on the floor? No, I didn’t, but it’s part of the job and you have to suck it up and fake that you are in a decent mood for the sake of your tables and tips. Do whatever you have to do. (In my case, it was a mimosa hidden in the side stand). And it was my fucking birthday, too. It’s not like I snuck in to the restaurant two minutes before you closed. It was 8:30 and you weren’t closing until 11:00. I was nothing but nice to the shitty host and I even gave you the benefit of the doubt when you snarled at me about our lack of menus, but now you’re going to give me attitude about water? If you knew the water was placed there for us, then just say so, but don’t tell me you “have no idea.” If that water was left over from some sailor who sat there before me, I don’t want to take a sip out of it and get the herpes from that hooker he picked up at Penn Station. Fuck you. We got up and left.
The host ran up to us to see what the problem was. It was now clear that the host was also a manager. “Guys, guys, what’s the matter? Where are you going?”
“Your waiter is rude. We’re done.”
“No, no, wait. What happened? Let me fix it.”
“Nope, the waiter with the dark-rimmed glasses is rude and we’re going somewhere else. Don’t need that. It’s cool.”
“Wait, wait, lemme make it up to you!”
Like I really wanted to stay there so he could put us in a different section where the asshole waiter tells another asshole waiter that we are assholes and then they spit in my birthday margarita. “Good bye,” we say as we breeze on down to another Mexican restaurant.
So, Tortilla Flats? I’ll always recall how fondly you treated me on my birthday 13 years ago, but maybe it’s best we leave it at that. Things change, after all and it’s okay. We will always have 1998 when the waiter was nice and he treated me with respect. This waiter was obviously having a bad night, but he took it out on the wrong person. The average Joe would just complain about it to his two or three friends. I am not your Average Joe. I am the Bitchy Waiter and when I complain, I get to do it to 4,532 people on Facebook, 3,875 people on Twitter and 3,031 followers on Blogger. So Tortilla Flats, you can tell that asshole server he can take a bowl of salsa and cram it up his asshole ass. He can take a burrito and choke on it. He can even take a sip out of the possibly contaminated glass of water and hope for the best. What he can’t do is treat me like shit on my birthday and think I won’t go home and blog about it. Fuck off. But thanks for the birthday memories in 1998. It was great. 2011? Not so much.
Tell Tortilla Flats that The Bitchy Waiter says hello by clicking by here! They’d love a few emails in their inbox, don’t you think? Leave a comment if you emailed them. I’d love to know how many emails they got.
(The link to the email address was deactivated 36 hours after this post went up because it’s all good now…)