Table Troubles

We spent a good chunk of today at or around the international airport, but it was actually a really good day.  One of the best parts was the delightful misunderstanding at lunchtime.

Now, to understand the significance of part of it, you must first know what happened yesterday.  My mom, my stepdad, my stepsister and her boyfriend, and I went to lunch at a restaurant in The Galleria.  My mom and stepdad went in first, while we kids went to look at a Lamborghini just outside the doors.  When we filed into the restaurant, we saw them heading up the stairs, and followed.  They told us up top that the waitress downstairs had told them to pick a seat anywhere, and had specifically mentioned that whether upstairs or downstairs was of no importance – it was open seating.

However, a waitress was rather snotty with us when we mentioned this upstairs, after asking kindly if a certain table could be wiped down before we sat down at it.  She declared that we needed to check in with the hostess (but would not help us find the hostess, even when we asked kindly) and that there was a wait time, and we could not pick our own seats.

About two minutes after finding the hostess, we were seated at the table we had originally found (and then requested).  And the guy setting the table was unfathomably slow, leaving us all standing, watching, as he finished setting the flatware.  (Not sure why anyone was bringing us to a table that wasn’t ready yet, but it just made us laugh at how ridiculous it all was.)

We were quite nice to everyone, keeping always in mind the fact that it was a holiday and that we were grateful for their being there.  A good handful of the people at this place seemed just ready to throw things at people for the simple defiant act of existing.  Nonetheless, we got our table and, eventually, food and all, and it was a good time all-in-all.

Now, fast forward to today, lunchtime.  We found a Mexican place that was near the airport – and I mean Mexican, not Tex-Mex, and not non-Mexicans who claim to have Mexican food and whatnots – and was open.  My stepdad went in first, while we all parked the car.  My mom, my stepsister and her boyfriend, and I all walked in in a row as another family was leaving, excusing ourselves in Spanish as we bumped paths and all (I meant it, when I called it a Mexican place.).  As I walked in behind my mom, I saw my stepdad standing next to a table just two over from the door.  He said that the lady told him that we could sit there, but he was going to the bathroom now.

So, we all slide into the booth and begin discussing whether there might be bleach in the cleaner (because the table was still damp from being cleaned and smelled a bit of bleach, but my mom had on black long-sleeves, and so wanted to be cautious about touching the table, if there were bleach in the cleaner), when a lady comes to our table and, in English, apologizes, but this table is already for another family.  Could we please wait just a minute over here?

I turned to my mom, and asked her what their deal was with tables right now, and she could hardly fathom it herself, giving a genuine I have no idea.  So, we stand up, the boyfriend telling the lady in Spanish not to worry and that we were completely okay.  We wait to the side for perhaps 45 seconds.  Then, the lady tells us that, okay, you can sit in this booth (the one just next to where we had sat down, and that was almost exactly the same).  So, we sit, and comment how it is drier that the other table was.  I sniff the table, and my stepsister fusses at me not to do so, but I explain that I was merely smelling for bleach, and she laughs.

My stepdad eventually returns, someone comes and takes our drinks orders (in Spanish, of course), and then the original lady comes to take our drink orders.  I notice passively that no one ever sat at the table next to ours.  We tell her that someone already had done so, but we are ready to make our food orders, however (all in Spanish, of course).  Then, before taking our food order, as she looks at all of us, she says something surprising.

Apparently, since she spoke to my stepdad in Spanish originally, it was a non-compute that the rest of us would be the family with him.  Though the boyfriend is from Mexico, he has blue eyes.  I am dirty blonde and blue-eyed, and my mom is sort of a brown-haired, brown-eyed, older version of me.  My stepsister just kind of blended in with us, since we were the majority look of our little group.  So, we were the foreigners, so to speak, and clearly weren’t the family of the original guy who’d asked for the table a few minutes ago.  She didn’t explain all of that, of course.  We deduced that.  But she did say (in Spanish) that she had thought that we did not belong to the gentleman to whom she had given the table, and so she told us that the table was taken by someone else.  But, upon seeing that that same gentleman was at the new table, she realized her mistake.  So, she apologized for it a few times, and we all enjoyed a good laugh at the whole thing.

No one ever ended up sitting at the table behind us, until the last few minutes that we were there, when a single man sat down to wait for someone or something briefly (so it seemed).

So, those were our adventures with table miscommunications this week.

Post-a-day 2017


‘One Spanish-speaking Boyfriend, please’

I said to myself yesterday that I needed a native-Spanish-speaking boyfriend, or else a native-Spanish-speaking friend, because I need Spanish in my life, and I need to use the language more than I currently do (hardly at all).

Tonight, at dinner, the waiter, who might also be the manager or owner or something, brought over to our table a handsome-looking young man, probably right around my own age, and explained that the guy knows very little English, and, if I would like, would be willing to work with me on improving my Spanish, if I would help him learn English.  And no, I hadn’t told him about yesterday’s declaration.

Isn’t life awesome? 😀

To give a little context, – the waiter was not being crazy or anything, with his suggestion that the helper and I work on language together – I had asked the waiter, after interacting with him a few times in English, if he would speak to us in Spanish from now on.  My mom had studied Spanish in high school, and then briefly in college, and has had plenty of interactions with Spanish in the years since then.  I spent a summer in Spain while in high school, and had just used Spanish all over for a couple years after that.  So, while it could be difficult at times, I figured we could handle it.

The waiter was delighted at the request, and instantly spewed out fast Spanish.  My mom told him almost immediately (in Spanish), “But you have to speak more slowly, because I am a gringa.”  (It’s essentially a term for foreigners.)  We all laughed, and he acquiesced.

As the meal went on, the waiter would pause and chat with us here and there.  He moved here from Mexico when he was 17 or 19 (I forget which), and don’t even know how to say ‘please’ in English.  To help himself learn English, he watched the American movies, and had on the English subtitles, and action I fully approve and support, and which I have done plenty myself.  He also spoke of how strong the Spanish-speaking community is in Houston, and that I need only get involved, and they will turn me into a Latina.  He learned that we are not studying Spanish; that I speak Spanish, but just never use it; that I just lived back from Japan; and that I just have no friends here who speak Spanish.  So it made sense that he brought over the guy later.  And it wasn’t weird.

When we left, a while later, I gave the young guy my number on a napkin.

Post-a-day 2017

Cough, cough.. ugh… smoke

As though to remind me that I do, in fact, want to leave, Japan gave me lots of smoking tonight.  It was by no means ‘a lot’ of smoking.  However, compared to no smoking, it a was really a lot.  My eyes burned a little, everything with me smelled horrible afterward, and my throat, hours later, still hurts a lot.

As I mentioned the silly situation of how the “non-smoking” was set up in the restaurant, – one table in the center, with  all surrounding tables being the smoking section – I noticed how I have never seen a single advertisement of any kind that commented on the dangers of smoking.  The closest thing I’ve seen has been the posters reminding kids that people under 20 can’t smoke or drink.  Otherwise, though, no one seems to want to spread the word about how smoking is more than just a nasty habit, but an incredibly dangerous one.  I guess that’s what happens when the government has a big hand in the tobacco business.

Total bummer.  Otherwise, I could have had a chance at actually enjoying Japan more than occasionally.

Post-a-day 2017