Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Country Etiquette

Have you ever wondered why people in the country are so polite, or as we folks from the city call it-- timid? I found out today the hard way, the way I learn everything. In Toronto if you go to a restaurant, then it is totally socially permissible to ask the waitress after 45 minutes of waiting for your burger, "Where is my food? I ordered a burger which isn't rocket science?" The waitress, who after all is hired to get the food to the table, and is no relation to the cook and does not feel in any way responsible for him, might say, "I have no idea. Those bozos in the kitchen must be on crack. I'll check for you right away." Job done.

This is not the case in Creemore, the small town where we own a farm up in the hills. I went to the only local pub for the Tuesday-night-half-price-burger-night, that stopped being half price about a year ago. For the last year people in Creemore now refer to it as Tuesday-half-price-burger-night-that-is-now-full-priced. Or some call it The- old-half-price-burger-night. It is a big social event to get out of your farm house, and drive into town especially in the winter when the snow is up to your hips. It's like on the TV show Bonanza when Hoss and Joe slicked down their hair and wore clean vests to go to market.

I was at the pub on a Tuesday with some other townspeople and after 45 minutes after ordering I asked where my burger was. It was croweded and I said, "What is happening with my burger? Is the chef still alive?" The waitress blushed and acted as though I was calling her out on some grave misdeed. The other people at my table were horrified and said to the flummoxed waitress that she shouldn't worry--that I was 'from Toronto' and that as they said, "was enough said". Then everyone at the table of eight assured the waitress that she was indeed doing a great job and I should be ignored.

When she left I said I didn't get it. Why was the waitress upset? What did she have to do with the cook? Is it a crime for a customer to ask for prompt service? They explained that they all knew the waitress who had three jobs and three children under four years of age and that her husband had lost his job. The cook was a man that thay all knew who was doing the best he could given what was going on in his life. When you know everyone personally who works in the restaurant and the stories of their lives then it is callous to act as though they are there to serve you and you do not have the right to make any complaints. Everyone has their issues and it is best to lay low if you don't know what they are. I was also informed that the waitress and the chef would never look at me the same way again. Complaining and expecting perfection was a big city feature that was not acceptable here. When I asked Sara, who writes for the Creemore Echo newspaper what one does when there food is 45 minutes late, and is served with a frozen roll that is only partly thawed, she looked at me with her big blue eyes and waited until there was silence at the table and said, "Suck it up."


  1. Me,I belong to the "Suck It Up With Another Glass of Wine" school.