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.
“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.
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?