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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Drop that bread!

A few nights ago, my family and I went out to eat at Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill, a local restaurant that specializes in Italian food. Evidently, that night everyone in the valley decided to eat here as well. We soon discovered this when we saw many people milling around the entrance, sitting on benches, all with a glazed look in their eye. As I gave our name to the hostess, I asked how long of a way it would be. I was informed it would be 15-20 minutes.  We decided that would be fine and we sat down on a cushioned bench, joining the other hungry patrons.
Sitting a few feet away from the other diners wasn't pleasant. The aromas of garlic, marinara and pesto hung heavily in the air, making my stomach gurgle. If I hadn't figured it out, my son kept reminding me how hungry he was. I caught myself surveying the dining area, seeking out empty tables just vacated that may soon be ready.
Then, out of the blue, another host started walking through the waiting lobby with a basket of hot garlic bread.  I thought this was a nice gesture since we were waiting at least 20 minutes for a table. When he came to our party, I took a napkin from the stack he was carrying in one hand and used the napkin to pick a piece of garlic bread from the basket he held out with his other hand.
I bit into the bread, savoring its warmth, its buttery herbs and crunchiness of the crust. My stomach pangs were subsiding a bit.
My husband commented to me that I shouldn't be eating the bread. He further elaborated how was I to know if everyone had washed their hands before reaching for the bread. He observed the people before me didn't use a napkin to pick a piece of bread.
Mind you, I’m already three bites into this food that I was previously enjoying! I gave my husband the stink-eye and asked him why didn't he mention this helpful tidbit BEFORE I took the bread?  My son-in-law, trying to make me feel better, mentioned that I set a good example, because he saw the other patrons using a napkin instead of reaching with their bare hands.
When we were seated, I analyzed every gurgle or twinge in my stomach. I couldn't shake the mental memory of an episode of Family Guy, when Peter Griffin is at a restaurant, thumbs through the basket of bread and asked if the sign on the bathroom about washing your hands only applied to employees!Somehow, I managed to push this thought out of my mind and enjoyed me meal. Thankfully, I didn't get sick afterwards.
After a few days, I got to thinking of my original impression that it was a nice gesture to offer a snack to the hungry waiting patrons. I didn't want to harbor any ill feelings about the dining experience.  With that,  I decided to place a call to the restaurant. As luck would have it, the person who answered the phone actually works at the corporate office. He listened to my suggestion to add serving tongs to the basket and announced he was going to bring it up at the next managers meeting for all of the restaurants.

I hope that they will continue to give samples, just in a more business-like manner rather than blindly trusting everyone has washed up before dinner, like I did!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Table Topics Take Two

The other day I was attending a Toastmasters International meeting. When Table Topics rolled out, I was called to make a 1-2 minute impromptu speech on the question: when was the last time you went camping and what happened? I shared that I didn't particularly like camping—my idea of camping was staying at a Holiday Inn with a black and white TV. I had married a man who loved camping—he could take a knife and a sleeping bag and he was set!  I ended my short speech with the last time we went camping, we compromised by staying in a campsite with showers, sinks and restrooms.
After I left the meeting, I was able to digest the question more thoroughly and came up with a deeper answer to:  What happened the last time you went camping?
The last time I went camping was with my husband about 16 years ago.  We were at a camp site near Pioche, NV that had showers and bathroom facilities.  We compromised, since camping is not my favorite vacation and my husband would take his knife and sleeping bag and be set! For the 4th of July weekend we were there, I woke up feeling sick in the mornings. I figured it was my body reacting to my dislike of camping.
Hold on a second—I was feeling sick…in the morning?!
The thought of being pregnant was scary. We had been married for 4 years and not really trying to have a baby. Sure, I was a step mom to my husband’s two sons (side note: I now refer to as my bonus sons after reading an article in People Magazine about Susan Sarandon. I liked the phrase she used to describe her daughter as Tim Robbins “bonus” daughter) but they were young boys who could verbalize what they needed. Also, they didn't permanently live with us, just a few weekends and a month or two at most.  Now a baby was completely different. I was worried about the added responsibilities and the huge changes to our life style. No more could we just go on the spur of the moment, no matter what time of day. My mind was littered with panicky thoughts: the midnight feedings, the changing diapers, a little tiny being so utterly dependent on me. As theadvertisement for Johnson and Johnson goes “Having a baby changes everything.”
My husband too had suspicions that I had a bun in the oven, but we wouldn't be 100% sure until we got back to town and went to the doctor. We were camping with friends, and I asked him to keep this to ourselves since we really didn't know if I was or wasn't. Maybe my body was just rebelling against camping—many all this fresh, clean air was too much for me!
On our last day of the trip, we drove to the lake so my husband and friends could fish. I don’t care to fish (surprise, surprise!) so I sat on a lawn chair by the lake taking in the scenery. When we arrived at the fishing spot, it was at the height of the Nevada heat. Now, it was nearing twilight, and as the sun was setting, the cool desert breeze took over. As I watched the sky changing colors, I noticed a father teaching his young daughter how to fish. She must have been about 4 years old and she was dwarfed by the fishing pole. Suddenly, the fishing pole started to jerk and her father helped her reel in her first catch! Her peals of laughter attracted other fishermen and women to gather around her as she held up the pole with the wiggling fish. Her dad carefully released the fish back into the water and scooped her up in his arms, beaming from ear to ear, as everyone shared in her excitement.
At that moment, I let go of the fear of the unknown on having a baby. This heartwarming scene made me realize that a new chapter of my life was beginning. My husband sat down beside me and I motioned to the father and daughter.
“I’m looking forward for what the doctor has to say,” I told my husband with a smile as he squeezed my hand.
What happened the last time I went camping was when I realized that I was pregnant with our son. Sure, I was scared of the new prospect, but after seeing the little girl and the joy she was bringing all of those people around her, I knew everything would be all right.