“That’s a bit excessive, don’t you think?” I turned to see who was talking to me and came face to face with a rather irate woman seemingly built to withstand windstorms. Her short grey hair and steely eyes made me want to stand a bit taller lest she knock me down with yet another withering stare.
Okay, so I did have an armful of alcohol. My daughter and I were buying libations for a week at the cabin in Wisconsin and the forecast included sunny, hot, days. We needed to stay hydrated, didn’t we? As I stood in the check out line I juggled one bottle of vodka, a bottle of Cointreau, a bottle of sweetened lime juice, and two bottles of wine. I hardly think that is an excessive amount for six thirsty adults sucking at the teat of relaxation for seven days.
I smirked my best “it’s really none of your business” smirk at the lady and said, “We have a large group to quench.”
She sniffed a bit and reset her jaw. “Well! It appears you’ll be feeling good.”
The line moved forward at that point and I dismissed her attack until my daughter asked what the woman was saying to me. I chuckled as I retold the story and ended with the statement, “Apparently the kitten has claws.” I scratched at the air and hissed.
A couple days later our group went to a local pub that advertised the best pizza buffet in town. It was lunch time and yet the place was fairly empty. Two men sat at the bar sipping beer while we filed in and looked about. By coincidence I also noted two pizza’s sitting on the bar’s counter top. Were they the men’s pizzas, or were those two lonely pies the advertised extravaganza? Maybe in Wisconsin “buffet” means more than one, but less than three.
What to do? Some members of our family are dedicated veggie eaters and I had mistakenly assumed a pizza buffet would include a salad bar, you know, like Pizza Hut sometimes offers.
I glanced around again hoping I’d missed something…like an actual buffet set-up. A wiry waitress brusquely arrived pointing at a bar table able to seat eight. “Take that one,” was all she said in lieu of a greeting.
“Excuse me,” I ventured. “Does your pizza buffet include a salad bar? The kids love their veggies.” That was actually the truth. I was trying to find a place that could meet the needs of all involved. The waitress reacted like I had slapped her.
“A salad bar? We serve a pizza buffet on Tuesdays.” I had the distinct feeling she wanted to tack on something about my intelligence at that point but refrained. “I don’t know of anyplace in town that has a salad bar during the day.” She thrust a menu in my hands. “We have salads on the menu.” Even though it was a hot day I felt the chill emanating from her tone.
I went eyeball to eyeball with the group. Everyone shrugged and said they were willing to give it a try. Four of us opted for the two-pizza buffet. My daughter-in-law leaned in and wanted to know if I had been using the children as an excuse to leave the restaurant when I asked about the salad bar. “No!” I said. “You told me they have not been getting enough vegetables on this trip and really love them. I was trying to make sure they had some choices for lunch.” She raised a skeptical eyebrow at me and ordered the kids a chicken strip basket and a cheeseburger basket. I sighed.
My husband, my love, did order a salad, and waited a looooong time for it to arrive. Despite my attempts at friendly eye contact and conversation, the waitress continued to freeze me out during the meal. I left her a nice tip anyway. Ya know, kill ‘em with kindness.
What intrigued me about this small Wisconsin town is that while it is hurting for business the residents refuse to embrace the tourists bringing in the outside dollars. As we walked around town “For Sale” signs lined the residential and business sections. I felt a pang of sadness. It’s a cute little town located on a chain of lakes, and holds potential. I’m far from a city slicker. I think I treat people with kindness and an open attitude. I almost always root for the little guy. But, if you want my business, act like I’m more than an outsider and an inconvenience, okay?
The owners of the resort we were staying at were mostly aloof. If we needed something we tracked them down and they obliged, yet there was always a sense that they were stressed and a bit put-upon. At the end of the week, as we were checking out, the female owner said she hoped we’d consider coming back again sometime. I hesitated. Stepping outside the resort office door I notice there wasn’t a welcome mat to be found.