The day after Christmas

Yesterday began at 8am in our household – with everybody taking turns through the shower, brushing their teeth, and pulling on variously smart clothes for the day ahead. My middle daughter is working through Christmas and New Year (she works in a pub in town), so I fueled her up for the day – making her a bacon sandwich for breakfast. Because of her working, and the imminent arrival of my in-laws we agreed not to open presents until the evening.

After she left for work at 9am we followed her down in the early afternoon, ahead of the second sitting in the pub restaurant at 3pm. We’ve eaten out at Christmas ever since my father-in-law passed away – my mother-in-law couldn’t face dinner at home the first year without him, and then we realised it made Christmas an awful lot easier. Yes, it’s expensive, but we think of it as a present for each other, and put the money aside months in advance.

The restaurant was crazy. I think they have in the region of 300 covers – and they were fully booked for service at lunchtime, and mid-afternoon – with staggered arrivals of big tables every 15 minutes to allow chefs, bar staff and food-runners to keep on top of everything.

They didn’t count on the point-0f-sale terminals screwing up at the start of the first service. I know all about cascading failures because of my work – it was interesting/horrifying to see it happen to a restaurant. By the time we arrived at what should have been the end of the first service, many tables were still eating. Some because their food had been late (because of the system failure), and some because… well… some people think it’s fine to sit at a restaurant table for four hours, knowing they were asked nicely to finish in two hours.

We have come to know a lot of the staff, and know how hard they work, and the impossible situations they sometimes find themselves in. We stood quietly waiting for our table to become availabe, and listened to the anger, fury, and abusive comments throughout the queue of people – all with their own (entirely incorrect) ideas about how restaurants should be run.

So. In the end we ate late, but the food, service, and atmosphere on our table was brilliant. While eating I couldn’t help over-hearing a table behind us – where an elderly lady didn’t smile for the entire duration of her meal. She complained about absolutely everything, then couldn’t remember what pudding she had ordered – insisting that she wouldn’t have ordered what had been delivered to her. Her exasperated son (at least I think he was her son) agreed to swap with her while three members of staff tried to placate her. After the situation had calmed down she tried some of her pudding – the one her son had swapped – and liked it better than his – so quietly swapped it back – all the while looking like she was chewing wasps.

Why? Why are some people like that?

Another couple stood in the reception area while we were waiting had walked in on the off-chance of finding a table. Because they didn’t get a table (the entire place was booked in advance), they set up camp in-front of the main bar point-of-sale terminal, and drank throughout service. While waiting to get a round of drinks a little later (to help the restaurant waiting staff), the barman told them:

“you’re in the way of this gentleman – he needs to use the card reader”

“yes, we know”.

They didn’t move.

The longer my daughter works in a service job, the more respect I have for people who do, and the less respect I have for people in general. Everybody wants whatever they want now – and if anybody gets in the way of that, they are garbage, and will face any and all abuse that can be thought up.

We saw one family leave the moment they walked in – not willing to wait even five minutes for “their” table to be cleared.

Don’t let me even start about the number of tables that have eaten meals in the restaurant throughout the Christmas period, then complained they were inedible. Yes – you heard that right. They ate the meals quite happily – then complained. They are playing the system, and have no shame. They know the restaurant has no recourse, they know the house rules, and will lie through their teeth every time they visit. If the restaurant push back against it, social media will be filled with spite, venom, and false reviews – because some people have all the time in the world to do that, while others work theirselves into the ground trying to make others happy.


We got home in the early evening and finally opened presents together. Following a conversation months ago, and with the realisation that none of us really needed anything, we got each other smaller things this year.

For a bit of fun, during that dinner conversation months ago, we all recalled something from our childhood that we loved, or that we never got. Those things turned up yesterday, and it was kind of wonderful.

My other half got a “Mr Frosty” slushy maker. My eldest daughter got a chocolate coin making machine. I won. I got the Fisher Price “Adventure People” play-set that I had when I was about 8 years old. My children laughed at me as I excitedly unstuck the bubble-wrap surrounding a green plastic van and figures that had probably sat in the corner of somebody’s attic for forty years.

It was a proper toy-story moment, where a long forgotten toy had it’s moment in the sun once again. It will take pride of place on the book-case behind me in the study – and become a talking point in future conference calls.

I better keep the mug my eldest daughter bought me out of shot though. In very lovely cursive writing surrounded by an ornate shield it titles me “Lord Twat of Knobbington Manor”.

After waving our in-laws goodbye, we all collapsed onto the sofa together, and set about re-winding the television to catch some of the Christmas special TV-shows together. We made it through about half an hour before falling asleep in front of the TV.

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