Umbrellas

Having waited tables, I’m always pretty attuned to the sociopolitical dynamics of restaurant staff. Today, Mom and Edith and I went to the farmer’s market in downtown Buda, which is adorable, and then we ate lunch on a restaurant patio nearby. It was a rare overcast day and extremely windy, so the umbrellas were all down.

After we’d been seated, I got up and put one near us up, because I have a baby so I behave like an entitled person now. Shortly after that, our server (a beleaguered woman who was clearly in the weeds all morning) put it down, explaining to me that her manager wouldn’t let them put them up because two had already broken in the wind that day and they cost $500. She said this as if I had challenged her on it; it was the voice of someone who had been explaining this all morning and getting a ton of pushback.

I didn’t much mind because it was so cloudy and cool and Edith had a shade over her car seat. But about twenty minutes later, the sun came out fully and it was suddenly intolerable. I put up the parasol I carry around everywhere, and my Mom always wears a hat with a brim the size of a snow saucer, but the family eating on the sectional sofa near us were not so prepared, and one of the women came over to put the umbrella up. I explained what had happened earlier when I’d tried it, and she rolled her eyes.

This family’s server was really working his tables. He was upselling and schmoozing and doing The Most, and so when he came back out and heard they were unhappy, he marshaled a bunch of other dude servers and they put up every umbrella in the place, and arranged them all around this family. Meanwhile, Mom and I moved ourselves over to a table under a tree.

Our server did not make another appearance for awhile, and when she finally did, she looked around with a “fucking of course” expression on her face, and immediately behind her, a sour-looking middle-aged guy in khakis bustled out and told her to put all the umbrellas down and then he vanished without helping. So she did, to furious looks from the family.

Meanwhile, all the fun dudes were inside and did not come out again until it was time to send their customers off with frozen rum drinks in takeaway Mason jars, because apparently that’s a thing that happens in Texas.

I do not miss those days at all. I left her a big tip.

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