Regardless of the restaurant, I'm used to guests coming in with the wackiest of demands. Most dining establishments do what they can when catering to the specific requests and creature comforts of the pickiest diners; it's an inevitable fact that needy people need a lot when dining out.
However, because of my pragmatic puritan upbringing and streamlined dependency on gin, I can barely fake an accommodating air when listening to a customer give me a speech about needing the tap water served at an exact temperature, or the curtain drawn to an exact degree to subdue sunlight. It's 45 minutes in a restaurant, not your final resting stop at Shady Pines.
Sheila really wore me out. She was an older woman who spoke as if she were always in a low but palpable level of pain. Every single word came in the form of a dissatisfied whine. The demands of her dining experience, however, were far more grating than her grimace.
Before even getting to her food order, Sheila needed:
1) 1 glass of tap water.
2) 1 glass full of ice, past the tip of the glass
3) 1 spoon
4) 2 lemons
5) 1 packet Sugar in the Raw
Sheila was making what restaurant experts call "lemonade," but without any of the inconvenience of ordering it pre-made sans mess. She also asked for a pillow for her lower back and a booster seat for her foot, which she flung across the booth, right next to her dining companion.
Her dinner order bordered on over the top so many times, I wondered if I was part of some reality-prank show. She wanted the veggie burger, but with the set-up we use for the cheeseburger, but with the cheese we use for the turkey burger. Including the bun, she wanted everything on the side. She wanted the burger cooked extra-well-done but in a hurry. She wanted her fries extra crispy but with no salt. She wanted the burger cut into 1/4ths. She wanted to drain the last drop of faith I had in humanity.
I checked on Sheila shortly after her food arrived. She ate nothing, refused to let me remove the plate from the table, then asked for it to be boxed up a mere two hours after ordering it.
I returned to the table with Sheila's boxed-up burger. She opened the box, touched the burger, then informed me that "the goddamn burger's cold."
"Yes, physics," I responded. "It sat untouched on the table for two hours."
"Well then warm it up before I go," Sheila snapped.
"I hate to spoil that idea, but it will just be cold again by the time you get home," I said. "Oh, and we don't have a microwave, and it's already been charred, so we can't cook it anymore."
I could tell Sheila rarely heard "no," so she continued snapping at me until I summoned the manager, who echoed my sentiment of science and logic.
Sheila's friend paid and left what I finally transcribed through shaky handwriting to be a 10 percent tip.
I hoped for along reprieve from the tedium of dealing with Sheila and her requests; unfortunately she returned for lunch the very next day. It seems I'll be serving Sheila again someday.