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Roach

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 5, 2013

Last night we went to dinner at a favorite restaurant, an upscale chain that shall remain anonymous. We were seated at a booth against a rear wall and were enjoying our appetizer dumplings when I spotted a familiar brown bug crawling along the table by the wall.

“Roach!” I cried, grabbing my plate and scooting toward the opposite side of the bench seat.roach

“What?” My husband peered around. His eyes widened when he saw where I pointed.

The waiter, who was nearby, hastened over. “Is something wrong?”

“Yes, there’s a roach.” I pointed a wavering finger. Dang, but the critter had scurried behind the salt and pepper shakers.

“I’ll be right back.” The young man rushed away and returned a moment later with reinforcements.

“What do you want to do?” the manager asked me as I stood by uncertainly.

“We need to change tables. I’m not staying here.” I’d already grabbed my food dishes. The manager indicated another table nearby with regular seating, not a booth.

My husband and I transferred our drinks and other accoutrements while the wait staff stripped off the tablecloth and hunted the offending creature. The manager even got down on his knees with a flashlight to look underneath. I guessed he’d got the bug because the waiters remade the table as though nothing had happened.

plate

The manager bustled over. “I’m so sorry. This almost never happens.” He mumbled several excuses which I blanked out, but I did hear the words, “Of course, we’ll compensate you for the inconvenience.”

I nodded my agreement. “That’s fine, thanks.” I figured we’d be lucky to get an item discounted off our bill. “Did you get it?” was all I really cared about.

“We did.” He left us to dine in peace.

Our meal proceeded until we got the final bill. To our pleasant surprise, the entire meal had been comped. All we had to pay for were our drinks and gratuity. I didn’t expect such generosity, but really, they owed it to us. I could have stood up and shrieked “Roach!” at the top of my voice. Imagine the reactions of the other patrons.

And then, being a writer, my imagination took flight. What if I had a character who did just that? This would fit right in with my humorous Bad Hair Day mysteries. Marla, my hairdresser sleuth, wouldn’t act this way, but a companion might. That person could even knock over her wine class at the same time and cause a general ruckus in an entertaining scene.

And—get this—what if Marla later spied this same character twisting a top on a medicine bottle and putting it into her purse, when Marla didn’t recall this person taking any pills. Could the guest possibly have brought the roach herself to let loose in the restaurant, hoping for a free meal? What an outrageous character. I can’t wait to write her into my next book! You see, inspiration always comes from life’s experiences.

I just love those What If’s, don’t you?

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15 Responses to “Roach”

  1. I love your plot idea. These stories pieces are just everywhere, sort of like roaches, but so much nicer to encounter!

  2. That didn’t work out so well for Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria…

  3. I can imagine that character! She’d be me screaming roach without thinking!!! LOL

  4. Suzibase@aol.com said

    Now you know every time we head out to dinner I will be looking around for “cousins” of your Roach! Hmmm….an upscale chain……..have to figure this one out. LOL Of course, everyone’s idea of upscale can differ.. Suzi

  5. This happened to us at another chain that shall remain nameless. Except it wasn’t on the wall, it came in the salad and crawled across my plate! My brave husband grabbed his napkin and smooshed the thing immediately. Now, I could have raised a ruckus, but like you and Marla, I didn’t. I discreetly told the waiter, showed him the evidence, whereupon he brought more salad. The manager apologized, but didn’t comp us anything. Oh, he offered us a free dessert, which we didn’t want. Needless to say, this is not a place we tend to frequent. Shudder!!!

  6. I had a roach/restaurant experience at a hamburger joint we used to frequent in Austin, Texas. Expect it wasn’t just one; this brazen insect brought his entire family to the fest. I couldn’t stomach smashing them, so I shooed them away with a napkin. They came back! I didn’t have to worry about hurting the owner’s feeling by never returning; we were moving out of state the next day. But that experience still gives me the willies.
    It’s great to be a writer. If you keep you senses alert, the ideas and inspirations pop up everywhere. I almost inhaled a bee once when I bent down to smell a rose. That scene is filed away for one of my Sydney Lockhart mysteries.

    • Ooh, a whole nest of them. Oy vey. I’d go running from that place. Inhaling a bee or getting stung on the nose? Scary thought. Not a bad way to knock someone off in a mystery, though. Send someone a bouquet who’s allergic to bees and plant one among the roses.

  7. That’s been done in a couple of movies…I think the one Julie Andrews was in? Also – in Heartbreakers they put some glass in a salad or pasta. Nice that they comped you. Every restaurant has roaches, even if they exterminate. Occupational Hazard.

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