Sunday, November 4, 2012

clink, clink, another drink

I've been to many restaurants and I'm sure you have, too. I am pretty familiar with the procedure. You enter. You are greeted by a host or hostess, who asks the number in your party and pretty soon, you are led to a table. You receive menus, or in the case of a buffet, you just head off in the direction of the food. A member of the wait staff will come to your table and introduce themselves, inquiring about your beverage order. The reason they are called "waiters" is that they wait on you. And conversely, you wait for them to come to you.

Or so I thought.

Last week, my wife and I found ourselves in yet another casino. This time, it was Paris in Las Vegas. We wandered the faux cobblestone that wound around the rear of the casino floor, passing a bakery and convenience store, each with meticulously themed fa├žades, until we arrived at The Village Buffet. The buffet at Paris is not that different from other buffets we have visited, so the securing of a table followed roughly the same procedure. After being shown to a table, Mrs. P and I started off at the salad area, as per our usual routine. Upon returning to our table, a young man clad in the dark, formal uniform of the staff, introduced himself as "Melvin" and began pouring water into our glasses. He was asking for our proper drink order when a man appeared behind him. Melvin was startled, even more so when this man draped a lazy arm around Melvin's shoulders. The man, now using poor Melvin as a crutch, was dressed in dingy gray sweatpants and a threadbare t-shirt tucked haphazardly into his waistband. He leaned in close to Melvin's ear and began to speak. Melvin recoiled, obviously affected by the man's alcohol-tinged breath.

"Can I get two Pepsis over at my table?," he slurred, pointing off in the distance, "Two Pepsis."

Dutifully, Melvin nodded and eked out a crookedly uncomfortable smile. The man took a more than adequate amount of time to remove his arm from Melvin's person and then staggered off in the direction of his point. Melvin resumed filling our water glasses and muttered something under his breath. He looked up and smiled at us.

"Two iced teas for you, right?," he said, "Be right back." He proceeded toward the beverage station, shaking his head.

The double Pepsi-craving man — inexplicably — left the restaurant and stumbled towards the casino.

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