The waitress approached my table and asked what I’d like to order. I told her the spaghetti-and-meatballs platter with a side order of rice and beans.
She raised an eyebrow. “We don’t have any of that on the menu.”
“Right,” I said. “But that’s what I want to order.”
“You can’t order it if it’s not on the menu,” she said.
“It’s a company policy.”
“But I don’t work for your company. I’m not an employee. I’m not even an independent contractor. Therefore, I’m not obligated to abide by company policy.”
“But you are a customer,” the waitress pointed out. “And customers also must abide by company policy.”
“I haven’t yet given you money in exchange for a product or service. Therefore, I can’t technically be classified as a customer.”
“That is incorrect,” the waitress said. “You are a customer by virtue of walking through the door. No exchange of money or goods has to take place.”
“I disagree,” I said. “I only achieve customer status when I exchange money for a product or service.”
“Well,” the waitress said, “this is private property. If you’re not a customer, then you must be a trespasser. Maybe I should call the cops to report you.”
“I wish you would. Then I could report you for refusing to serve me.”
“I’m more than willing to serve you. In fact, I want to serve you. That’s why I’m standing beside your table, notebook and pen in hand, waiting to take your order.”
“I’ve given you my order. It’s just that you’ve refused to honor it.”
“That’s because your order doesn’t exist. It’s only a figment of your imagination. We don’t serve spaghetti and meatballs with a side order of rice and beans. Neither of those items is on the menu because this is an old-fashioned hamburger joint. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t combine the two items.”
“But I’m a customer, and that’s my order. Therefore, you’re denying me service.”
“I can serve you if you order something on the menu. But until then, we’re at an impasse.”
“Would you just order something?” yelled the guy at the next table. “We’re hungry over here.”
“Shut up!” I screamed at him. “I’m a paying customer, too.”
“Actually, you’re not,” the waitress said. “As you pointed out only a moment ago, you haven’t yet given us money in exchange for a product or service.
“In fact,” she added, “you’re trespassing on private property. If you don’t leave immediately, I’ll have to call the cops.”
“No reason to be so drastic,” I said, picking up the menu. “Here – I’ll order the patty melt on rye. Give me extra onions, and make sure the burger’s well-done.”
“Excellent choice, sir,” the waitress said. “Would you like fries on the side?”
“Actually,” I said, “I’d much prefer a side order of rice and beans.”
She frowned, putting her hands on her hips.
“Get out,” she said.
I reached into my pocket and placed a dollar bill on the table. “I don’t have to. I’m a paying customer now. See? There’s money.”
The waitress turned her head. “Kevin?”
The impatient guy at the next table stood up and grabbed me by the collar. He slugged me in the face seven or eight times, breaking my nose and knocking out two of my teeth. The he kicked me in the stomach and broke both of my kneecaps. When he was done, he returned to his seat, and the waitress took his order.
So now I’m lying here on the cold linoleum floor, my head dizzy and my face sticky with drying blood. Because of my broken kneecaps, I’m not able to walk outside.
Which is OK, because now the cops are dragging me out for trespassing.
One opens the back door of the patrol car while the other shoves me inside. My head hits the roof, knocking out two more of my teeth.
It’s lucky I’ve lost my appetite, I think, as they drive me away. Otherwise, I’d really be lamenting that spaghetti and meatballs with the rice and beans on the side.