Don’t come and go like you do ... I need to know all about you.
— Liz Phair
This is what I learned about the woman at a nearby table while dining alone at a local restaurant the other day:
- Her sister has a health problem that may require surgery and she may have to go all the way to Macon to visit her.
- She thinks that new Tyler Perry movie is going to be even better than all the rest.
- This girl she used to work with is probably sneaking around to see this guy who’s having trouble in his marriage and if she doesn’t watch out she could end up with various painful injuries too graphic to describe here.
- The price of gas has gone up so much, she may have to quit driving anywhere.
- She had to “straighten out” one of her son’s teachers whose “racist a--” was picking on him and letting everybody else’s kids in the classroom do whatever they wanted.
- She skipped out on church last Sunday and lied to several people in the church, telling them she wasn’t feeling well.
Now, given this job, I’m a curious person by nature. The way you find out about potential news stories in this business is to become a good listener and try to pay close attention to the things going on around you.
But I can say with all assurances that there was nothing this loud and obnoxious woman had to say during her hour-plus monologue, which was interrupted only sparingly by her cramming food into her constantly running mouth, that would spark even a passing interest on my part. And, judging from the looks of disgust she got — and ignored — from other diners in the restaurant, none of them had any interest in her personal affairs either.
Not that they had any choice in hearing about them.
My wife tells me I have to learn to tune things out better, but I have to admit my ongoing inability to do so is just one of my many failings. I’m just amazed by people — and not in a good way — who obviously feel that anyone sitting close to them in a public place has any interest in their personal conversations.
Maybe when they come into a place that insists that its patrons “make themselves at home,” these people take it a little too literally and go immediately into the obnoxious mode that people who live in the same household no doubt know so well. I expect one day to see one of these people — and there are plenty of them out there; they span all ethnic and age groups as well as socio-economic status — kicked back in their underwear like they usually do at home.
Obviously, every annoying person in a restaurant doesn’t reach the same level as the person whose performance I caught recently. In fact, it would be hard for anyone to top her.
Before I left the restaurant — in disgust, my dining experience ruined — I watched this woman talk rudely to her waitress, call said waitress over to her table four separate times to fetch some item or another — once yelling across the room to get her attention — and demand that one of her food items be replaced because it wasn’t cooked right. Perhaps what angered me most about her boorish behavior was watching her laugh conspiratorially with her companion — who was little more than a sounding board in this comedy of incivility — after each of her separate dressing downs of her waitress.
After I’d had my fill — trust me, I’d reached the point where I was ready to either tell this woman what a lousy excuse for a human being she was or hurl my just-eaten lunch in her lap — I walked out disgusted, pretty certain I wouldn’t return to that particular establishment. Before I did, though, I gave the waitress that had waited on this socially retarded individual a tip to match the one I left my own waitress.
I was sure she was going to get a lousy tip from the person she’d had to contend with throughout the time I’d spent in the restaurant. Plus, I figured she deserved combat pay.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at email@example.com.