Sunday, May 04, 2008
Since I’ve retired to Delaware, one of my traditions is to meet with friends at the Purple Parrot restaurant on Sunday night in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The Purple Parrot offers a Sunday night special on prime rib. My friends partake of this Sunday night special, I don’t. I order what is called “The Wimpy” which is a half pound hamburger. Tonight six of us met at the Purple Parrot for our Sunday night weekly get together. In the past this has been a convivial grouping of friends gently teasing one another, and having a few laughs at each other’s expense. Tonight was different. It started out well enough. I met my friend who lives nearby. We alternate on the Sunday nights we drive into Rehoboth Beach. Tonight it was his turn. Driving down to Rehoboth Beach my friend played a CD he had burned of 70’s disco, which featured the Trammps. Driving down Route 1, with his car sound system turned up to hear the full effect of the disco sound, brought back fond memories of summers past spent in Provincetown, Massachusetts listening to classic disco like the Trammps. We were in a festive mood when we entered Rehoboth Avenue. The difficulty we had finding a parking space confirmed that we were entering into the summer season in Rehoboth Beach. We entered the Purple Parrot restaurant to the cacophony of sound of a reggae band. The Purple Parrot was celebrating its anniversary. We found a small table and ordered our drinks. The music was thundering thus making it difficult to have a conversation. However, the beat was infectious and we were enjoying ourselves, even though we had to shout to have a conversation. After about a half an hour, our favorite table was open. We settled ourselves at the table by the awning which overhangs Rehoboth Avenue. We could people watch and they watched us. I ordered another Appletini Martini. Our friends arrived about a half an hour later. Once all six of us were settled at the table we ordered our meals. Four of the six of us ordered the prime rib special. One person ordered the guacamole bowl. I ordered a hamburger called “The Wimpy.” The music was so loud, that when the waiter took our orders, I got up from my seat and walked over to him and gave him my order specifically. Mine was the first order. My friends ordered then ordered their meals. Our waiter left with our orders. Later he returned to take orders for a second round of drinks. The reggae band disbanded, they were only to play until 6:00 PM. Two of our party we had not seen since the cold days of winter. We were all getting reacquainted. About 10 or 15 minutes later, the prime rib orders arrived. One of our party, who had ordered the guacamole bowl, had received his order and was digging in. He offered me some of his meal. I declined. Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed. I still had not received my order even though I had been the first to place an order. One of my friends asked a different waiter why my order was taking so long. The waiter checked and came back and said my order would be along “shortly.” Another ten minutes goes passes. By now, most of our party has finished their meals. I’m still waiting for mine. Another inquiry is made. Finally, my order arrives. Jokes are passed around that everyone will watch me while I eat. I take it all in good humor. After all, I was working on my second Appletini Martini. I eat my dinner while jokes are still being passed around good naturedly. Finally, I finish and the check arrives. Someone asks, and is informed that the waiter was new and overwhelmed and something got “screwed up” in the kitchen. That’s understandable. Mistakes happen. However, when the evening really started to go off the rails was when my friend mentioned in his usual superior condescending sarcastic manner, “Ron, you’ll just have to get over it!” I responded by saying, “No, that’s bullshit. The waiter made a mistake.” I understand that mistakes happen and I wasn’t going to punish the waiter for his mistake. However, I took offense to the offhanded manner in which my friend dismissed the whole episode as if it was my inability to handle a waiter’s mistake. I understand that my friend used to be a waiter. I was one myself. When I made a mistake, my response was to say “I’m sorry.” I would apologize. I have done that. My ego isn’t that outsized or vulnerable that I cannot say “I’m sorry” and move on from there. However, I would get no apology tonight. All I would receive was a dismissive “Get over it Ron.” This kind of condescending superior attitude unfortunately hit the wrong button on my control panel this evening. Again, I responded “No, that’s bullshit!” Apparently, my friend was either incapable of or so disrespectful of my feelings that he was unable to agree with me that he waiter made a mistake. I asked my friend to just say that, not that I should “get over it.” There was nothing for me to “get over.” The waiter made a mistake. Let it go at that. I was going to pay for the meal and even give him a generous tip, as I usually do with waiters and waitresses because I know it is a difficult job. But, my friend was unyielding. He insisted that I should “get over it.” He said “Ron, let it go.” I didn’t have a problem with the waiter’s mistake. My problem with was my friend’s dismissive and condescending attitude towards me, his friend. This friend of mine is one of those individuals who have a unique inability to see any of their own faults. I’ve met other people like him. They have a cognitive inability to acknowledge a mistake. One thing they do seem to have in common, they all see therapists. One would think if they saw therapists they would recognize that character flaw in themselves. However, that does not seem to be the case. While none of us is perfect, including me, I know all to well what triggers my anger. That is someone dismissing me and my feelings as unimportant. The comment “Get over it Ron” doesn’t work. What works is “The waiter made a mistake.” I was fine with that. Then, let’s move on from there. Not, “Get over it Ron.” What’s for me to get over? That kind of comment says more about the person saying the comment and what he thinks of the person he is giving it to. What he is saying is “I have no respect for you at all. The waiter is more important than you.” This is the kind of person it is difficult to be friends with. A friend who respects his friend would not make such a comment. One wonders would he appreciate such a comment if it was made to him? I doubt it. So there we are. My feathers got ruffled tonight at what was supposed to be a friendly weekly get together of friends. Unfortunately it degenerated into an ugly exchange of hurtful words among friends. Sometimes this happens. Sometimes this is necessary for one friend to realize that to maintain friendship there has to be mutual respect. Until that person looks in the mirror and recognizes his own faults, it will be difficult for him to maintain friendships. For myself, I have to ask myself the question, do I need friends like this?