The family decides to go down to Pizza Hut on Saturday night. Three men, two women and a baby. We all drive down to Galleon’s Reach in the same car. At half past eight, the restaurant is practically empty. There’s about two big families there with little kids, sort of like us. The kids are crawling around on the floor, which is strewn with discarded crayons, cutlery and remnants of food.
We stand around at the entrance looking for service. A few minutes pass. There don’t appear to be any waiters anywhere. A girl finally shows to ask us if we’re being seen to. We’re not. She looks us over, calculating how many tips she’s likely to make off of us. She decides where to put us, finally. She asks some guy to clean up the table for us. A few more minutes pass. We look around for service.
Finally, the guy shows up. At last. But he is not quite done yet. He has changed his mind about the table. It’s not really suitable, he says, looking at the baby, who has started crying. Shush, little baby. He smiles. I’ll get you a bigger table. It’d be better. We wait a few more minutes while he cleans it up. It’s already been about ten minutes we’ve been standing about. That’s what it feels like, anyway.
We finally get a seat. The table I’m sitting on is wonky, I realise, as I lean on it. My dad, who is sitting next to me, gets up and sits on a different table, leaving me to it. It glistens where the guy has wiped it down. We wait around for menus. Finally a girl shows up with them, a different one, this time (where these people are hiding, we have no idea). She asks us what drinks we want. We all want Pepsi. Except my dad. He asks for 7up. No, we don’t have that, says the waitress. Okay, says my dad, slowly. Can I get a Sprite instead. The girl says we don’t got Sprite. We all look at her now. After a pause (is she retarded? Is she laughing at us?) she explains in a monotone that they’re out. She doesn’t apologise. Me and my brother roll our eyes. My dad says he’ll just have a Pepsi. My mum asks for straws. Of course, snaps the girl, already half-gone. She doesn’t ask if we want ice or lemon slices or anything in them. The drinks come back without any of this stuff in them.
We decide what we want, then look around for service. Finally, some guy comes. There’s no small talk. We just order starters and the main course. There’s no cutlery or napkins on the table. We expect he’ll notice and get some. He doesn’t. The starters come and we have to ask the guy for napkins. He brings these over but doesn’t get the cutlery and then vanishes before we can say anything. It’s okay, I say. We’ll get the cutlery for the main course. The main course comes. Another different waiter. I ask him for some cutlery. We have to wait an age before he comes back with it, after putting the food down. During the wait, my dad advises me to just go and get some off another table, but I expect the guy will be straight back. My mum inspects the cutlery when it comes. It’s got water marks all over it. She polishes it with the napkins.
Some guys come into the restaurant at this point and are immediately met by the waitress that came to us. Sorry, she says. No seats. Why, the people ask. It’s only nine o’clock. The restaurant is closing down early because of the bus strike. Funnily enough, as soon as we finish eating, the waiter comes down and rushes away our empty plates, although he leaves us to box up the remaining pizza ourselves. He doesn’t ask us how the meal went or anything.
When we leave the restaurant, I look in the window to where we were sitting, one last look for service at Pizza Hut. The waiter that we ordered the starters and main course off, who just took the order and then cleared away the plates, actually looks in the tray to see if we’ve left him a tip for service. I wonder how he likes looking for something that isn’t there…