You’d think that two free restaurant dinners in one day would be grounds for celebration. In practice, it didn’t actually work out that way….
It so happens that, after the closing went through on the condominium that’s now Lone Penman Headquarters, the realtor on our side of the deal sent along a respectably generous gift card for one of the new online restaurant-delivery services. For a one-person household who (a) doesn’t drive and (b) occasionally works multiple graveyard shifts in sequence, this was an especially happy gift, and I have been whittling away at that gift card balance with good results.
Until this past Wednesday, that is, when I placed an order for a shrimp ravioli dish from a nearby Italian place, one from which I’d ordered happily before. As on the prior occasion, the delivery driver actually beat the estimated delivery window by 15 minutes or so, and handed me a hot takeout box (the entree) and a sturdy small-sized pizza box (the extra side of focaccia). I thanked him, closed the door, headed for the kitchen, and was actually dividing the entree — enough for two meals, as before — into a bowl and a plastic storage container when I realized that Something Was Wrong.
I had gotten not shrimp with ravioli, but shrimp risotto.
And sadly, I am not at all fond of risotto. Also, even good risotto tends not to travel well.
The ensuing online chat conversation unfolded like a classic series of good news/bad news jokes. The chat agent promptly got on the phone with the restaurant…but I couldn’t get the right entree sent over, because there wasn’t a driver available. They were happy to refund the entree price…but we ran into enormous trouble trying to verify that the refund had actually landed on my electronic gift card (neither the delivery service or its gift card vendor had a way to look up the stored balance without the long alphanumeric code on the paper card I’d originally been given).
And by the time I looked up from typing a highly annoyed email to the gift card vendor, two hours had gone by, during which the shrimp-risotto-not-ravioli had been sitting out on my counter getting cold. I sighed, tossed it (between not liking risotto and the food safety lectures one hears about not leaving hot food out, I wasn’t going to take chances), and went off to take an abbreviated pre-work nap.
Now, one of the few shortcomings of the shiny new Lone Penman HQ is that while the bus stop is a mere five-minute walk from my front door, and the bus ride to work takes maybe seven minutes, the buses stop running much too early at night for someone working a graveyard shift. And the weather is not yet good enough to commute via bicycle. I have therefore taken to riding the last bus up to the relevant intersection and hanging out in one of the available hangouts until it’s actually time to report to work. The night in question being a Wednesday, the McMenamin’s was closed by the time I got there, and I was too hungry to be satisfied with Taco Bell, so I went into Shari’s, thinking that at least I could get some dinner there. [There is also a Mysterious Seedy-Looking Sports Bar in one of the shopping centers that no one ever talks about. Someday I may explore the Mysterious Seedy-Looking Sports Bar. Last Wednesday was not that day.]
And indeed, I ordered a small plate of fish & chips, ate the salad that preceded it, took a bite of fish, and was just picking up an herbed French fry…
…when there was a dramatic BLINK, and all the lights went out.
“We’re sorry,” came the sad but still cheery voice of the Shari’s night manager out of the darkness, “but we have to
kick you all out into the street send you all out into the parking lot. You can’t be here when there’s no power. It’s not safe.”
“On the other hand,” she added, in a cheery but still sad voice, “whatever you were having tonight is on us.”
I managed to snag a couple of the herbed French fries before following the crowd of customers out of the restaurant into a night which was now not just dark, but extremely dark — it wasn’t just Shari’s that had lost power, but everything for at least several blocks in all directions, up to and including street lights and traffic signals. And as matters turned out, the outage only lasted perhaps half an hour. I was able to clock in on schedule at work, and the computers were up and running again.
But what I’m going to remember most about that particular night is having been given two free dinners, and only being able to eat half of one of them.