The hostess handed me the menus

on

“Good evening. I have a reservation under the name Wilson.”

The hostess placed the menus on the table. “Ah, yes, that is your name.” She
looked up at me.

“Yes, I had a reservation under that name.”

“Do you know what time you are to be joining me, sir?”

“I don’t know. Is there a list or something?”

“I am sorry Mr. Wilson, I have no list for you, sir. There is a set of
seating locations as listed on my computer screen at this moment.”

“Can’t you just give me a number or a location?”

“You know they are not listed on the computer screen, sir. Would you like me
to show you the screen?” she asked as she handed me the menus.

I nodded.

“Yes, I’ll show you the screen. It’s right there at the top of the page.”

The first page was a list of menu items. The top menu item was called
“Restaurant Menu: Breakfast, Dinner, and Lunch.” The second menu item was “Steak
Salad and Pasta Salad with Tuna.” Other item descriptions followed in a clear
row of letters. I moved to the other page.

“You have not filled in a price, sir,” she said.

“I don’t need one.”

“Mr. Wilson, the prices and discounts on these menu items are listed on your
own menu page in the restaurant.”

“I don’t want to see my own menu. I want to see the options in front of me.
Why show me my own?”

“I don’t know, sir. It is a little difficult because I cannot change the
items in a way that would be visible on your menu. I try to change items
that are not visible.”

“Then why list them on a separate menu?”

“Because many of our guests have a limited time and the other areas of the
restaurant are not open when they visit.”

“Are you sure they are open?”

The hostess looked up at me with a nervous expression. “Of course I am sure,
sir. I work here.”

“Then you don’t have to look at the prices. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have
asked. Do you know how long I am staying here?”

“Sir, I have a very full schedule. My schedule is listed on my computer screen
every fifteen minutes.”

I looked at her with a frown. “I don’t like this.”

“I know. Why don’t you try sitting at a table with my sister or with
someone else waiting for you?”

“I don’t want to sit with anyone else waiting for me.”

The hostess looked up and looked around. She closed and opened the door. She
went to the tables. She called her name to one of the servers. She came to
the table where I sat.

“Would you like any breadsticks, sir?” the hostess asked.

“No.”

“Are you sure, sir?”

“No. Do you know why I am here?”

“As it’s obvious from observing you standing here with your handbag and
manicure, the answer is no.”

“Then why am I here?”

“For the same reason as you were sitting at this table,” she said.

I sat for another twenty minutes before the hostess returned with my
beverage. She also brought me a glass of water.

“Would you like to sit somewhere else?” she asked.

“No, I don’t want to sit anywhere else.”

The hostess placed my napkin right in front of me.

“Thank you.”

I looked at the menu again. I looked at the prices. I looked at the
discounts. I looked up at her and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t follow what
you’re saying. Why is a waiter a good choice for an escort?”

She looked down at her hands. “Because he is a very good choice for the
date, sir.”

“No, he is not. He is not even a person. He’s just a waiter.”

“I apologize. My job is to take your drink order and serve you the drink
when you are ready. If it is my job to show you to the front of the restaurant
when you are ready, it’s my job to allow you to choose where you want to come
and sit to begin your evening.”

“That’s not what I meant. I understand what I meant. But what are you here
for?”

“I am here to tell you to go back to your table. And I tell you to do that
because I don’t want you around while I am serving someone else.”

“Why don’t you want me around?”

“Because I don’t want you to disturb my other customers. If you were not a
woman, I would have allowed you to sit somewhere else. I have never allowed
you to sit anywhere else. Never.”

“You are telling me I will not disturb anyone?”

“I am not saying you will disturb anyone. I am telling you that I do not want
you present while I am serving other customers.”

“Yes, I understand. Thank you.”

“But I don’t want you to remain by my side during a dinner.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want you to stand too close to me while I am serving other
customers.”

“I understand. Thank you.”

She returned to the front of the restaurant with my beverage. She returned
with the breadsticks. She returned with tea for me. She returned to the
table with my napkin. She returned to the other table with her sister and two
other people waiting for me.

“Are you ready to order your meal, sir?”

I nodded. I asked for the same meal, and I waited patiently.

When my meal arrived, the hostess walked me back to my table. The hostess
waved to a server who walked from the kitchen. I waited for a long time for
the next server to return.

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