Earlier this week, the weather was just shitty enough for my girlfriend and myself to cancel our plans, but not sock soaking enough to prevent us from trying to go to dinner. The problem was our intended destination is one of those places that is closed on Monday, trying to be fiscally responsible instead of worrying about my personal need to fuck up tacos in their dining room.
There are enough restaurants in the vicinity that we could have driven in a spiral pattern for about half a mile and come out with sixteen different versions of chimichurri sauce, but we thought it would be hilarious to go to a chain restaurant that we have a recurring joke about. I won’t name it, but let’s just say that evening we were not eatin’ good in our neighborhood.
Any time we drive by one of these restaurants, I pretend to pull over and tell her to think about what she’s done. But here’s the thing: THEY HAVE NEVER DONE ANYTHING AT ALL TO PISS ME OFF! I think the whole thing started in the same fashion that we ended up there…ironic detachment and a need to make fun of “Millenials are killing what now?!” articles that plague the social media landscape.
And just so we’re clear, this isn’t supposed to be a scathing indictment of a chain in general, or even calling out this one particular location. It’s mostly to have a laugh at how a joke can go wrong. That being said, they can get fucked.
Things started innocently enough, as I perused the various delicacies they have involving chicken fingers. I mean, in a 3/4 empty restaurant, we were seated directly next to a family with two small children, which is an odd choice, because how did the host who seated us not know my girlfriend turns into Scarface only in restaurants and within earshot of kids? Cuban accent and everything. It’s actually really cute.
My spirits were lifted when I very quietly heard Manic Street Preachers playing on Chain Restaurant Radio. Huh, maybe things wouldn’t be so b–
That was when the fire alarm went off directly behind my head. I mean, like, within five feet. I am fairly notorious for my pre-existing hearing damage, so good news everyone: IT’S WORSE! After I shit my pants, which I wasn’t expecting to do for at least an hour after I ate, I started looking around and no one was really reacting. Especially the employees.
After it was shut off, the manager did eventually come around to assure us that it was the fire alarm that went off. Oh yeah? I wasn’t sure. I thought it was a standard ear bleed. He also wanted us to know that it was just because it was raining and it made it weird.
“Dude…is…is your fire alarm broken? I guess I would be more concerned in a restaurant where I didn’t believe 75% of the food was just microwaved. But, like, that’s cool. Should we just…oh, he’s walking away.”
I got this look from my girlfriend that indicated she was becoming suspicious that maybe we had done this to ourselves. However, mozzarella sticks arrived and all was well!
Right as I began to bite into my first piece of fried cheese since lunch, the goddamn fire alarm went off again. I burnt the fuck out of my mouth, lost a few more high-end frequencies in my hearing, and was stopped mid-anecdote about something that was clearly important, but, now I forget what it was.
This is when I started to feel bad for our server. Imagine having to go around to your tables and try to tell everyone that everything is fine without actually being able to apologize because management won’t have it, waiting for someone to unload on you about something you have no control over. I mean, that’s just being an adult, but still.
As the rest of the food arrived at the table, a fire engine arrived. Dinner AND a show! It was quickly confirmed that they were actual firemen and not the kind that bring their own boombox by them turning the MOTHERFUCKING FIRE ALARM back on over and over again. I kept putting my fork down because I was too physically uncomfortable to partake in my chicken finger salad from the health conscious menu.
I swear to all that is holy, every time I picked my fork back up, they set it off again. To the point where I was throwing $5 on the table and walking out, only to find that the fire engine was blocking our car. I started to become suspicious that this was a government psy-op in which I was trapped in this sad-factory, forced to finish my meal in retaliation for not ordering fajitas.
Our server came over with boxes, knowing this was a bust. The boxes indicated that we were being told it was okay to take our food with us, which I certainly didn’t want to do, but all I could do was point at the car trapped in its parking spot by 4 guys leaning against their truck, while their boss kept hitting a switch, asking, “Does this do anything?” as an air raid siren warned us of danger.
Wanting to just get the farce over with, we were brought our bill. Our fully intact bill. I never believe I am owed anything. But I didn’t even get those mozzy sticks for free. It should be stated now I have a long standing belief that all restaurants should offer free mozzarella sticks that come out as soon as you sit at the table, so this is an even bigger slap to the face!
While I am weighing whether I should say anything to the server, her manager ambled over again. This time to let us know, that the restaurant wasn’t on fire. The fire department has just been checking the alarm for the past 10 minutes.
“Motherfucker, I am about to burn this monument to suburban excess down to it’s very foundation if you don’t walk away from me right now!”
But since the alarm was still blasting, he didn’t actually hear what I said, gave a non-apologetic smile and left. FUCKING POWER MOVE! I think that in the afterlife, I am now one of his vassals.
I have been bouncing back and forth about whether I should write a letter to corporate. In the end, I decided no for a few reasons. A major contributor being, technically, we were served what we asked for. And when things go wrong, it usually comes out of the tip. But it wasn’t like our server was setting off the alarm. And I can’t complain about the manager TO the manager. He had a dumb mustache and a smirk, so this was more likely to end with me trying to choke him out with the fire hose on the truck then getting my bill reduced and I wasn’t carrying my fanny pack filled with bail money like I usually do. And even if I went home and wrote to corporate, what would they do? Send me a gift card to the restaurant?
I wouldn’t even give that away as a Christmas present to someone who pissed me off as the grandest passive aggressive gift giving scheme of all time.
I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from going to a restaurant they like. If that is your jam, do it up. Just try not to pick a night where the rain is causing the fire alarm to malfunction. I started wearing ear plugs to concerts because I. CAN’T. FUCKING. HEAR. YOU. already. I don’t need to do that when I am eating.
And now I know in the future to never ironically go somewhere for dinner. I will stick to the places with animatronic bands and cone head sundaes that I am used to.