I was in Montreal with a group of friends last weekend. I lagged behind the group (the new shoes I had on chafed my feet raw, and as we were passing the Chinatown, I told my friends to go ahead and choose a nice restaurant, while I buy a pair of flip-flops and catch up). I did exactly that, and, having caught up, discovered that my friends had chosen “St.Hubert” at the corner of St-Catherine and St-Urbaine. Not exactly my choice of a restaurant (especially because we were in Montreal downtown where you can find any number of nice, inexpensive and cozy places), but I decided not to argue, because my companions already have been standing in line for a while, waiting for admission. A little later, we were let in, they took our orders, brought us two bowls of coleslaw and the drinks. We crunched happily and exchanged impressions of the day. A little later a waitress brought us the appetizers we ordered. We talked some more, and then I realized that we have been sitting there for an hour already and there is still no trace of our main courses. I was going to see the fireworks later and I would have hated to miss them. (For those of you who does not know “St.Hubert”, it is not exactly haute cuisine – it is just a notch above McDonalds, with fried chicken and hamburgers on the menu.) We asked the waitress a couple of times when our food is going to be ready but she seemed unperturbed. At last, when I understood that I am almost late for the fireworks, I called the waitress and told her that it’s been over an hour and we still did not get our meals.
– Why are you yelling at me? – she asked.
(I was not yelling; I spoke loudly so she could hear me over the din in a crowded restaurant.)
– OK, – I said, – call a manager, I will yell at him.
Another 10 minutes later the manager appeared and asked me what was the matter, in a very stern voice (as a school principal would talk to a misbehaving student).
I told him that it’s been over an hour since we made our orders.
He shrugged. His face clearly said that I was stupidly bothering busy people with my stupid whims.
– Do you call that a service? – I asked.
– Yes, – said he.
I told him I was canceling my order, paid for the appetizer we ate and left.
We came out of the restaurant and looked behind. The sign above the restaurant said in large letters:
Other people from our group left with me, but others stayed. They told me what happened next.
The food was brought about 8 minutes after I left (which makes about 1.5 hours in total).
It was completely cold.
And the waitress demanded tips. “For service”, as she said.
P.S. It is not the general standard of service in Montreal; next day we dined in another restaurant and were serviced promptly by polite staff. So that’s probably a unique occurrence. I don’t know how to explain it; maybe their primary clientele is tourists who never come back anyway.
P.P.S. I was late for fireworks after all, but saw about the last 10 minutes of them which is always the best anyway.
On my way back to the hotel I bought myself a T-shirt saying:
I AM NOT A BITCH
I am just giftedly outspoken.