It’s only Tuesday but it’s another stressful week already at work, mostly due to overwhelming amount of work in the end-of-year run-up, the usual last minute crises, and a really badly timed internal departmental office move from one floor to another which has left everyone additionally frazzled from trying to get their footing in a new space while being flat out busy at the same time.
So what did I do to cope? Well, this evening I was on my own with Hawkeye and on the way to creche I had a sudden moment of panic.
Dinner. Oh my god, what am I going to feed the spawn for dinner. I just… I just can’t even think straight!
So I did what any self-respecting harried mother would do. I gave in, surrendered to the urge, took the easy road. I stopped in a restaurant on the way home and pampered the two of us to a mid-week meal because I just. couldn’t. deal.
The restaurant isn’t exactly a cheap one, but it’s got a casual, relaxed atmosphere and when I trudged through the front doors, wheeling a stroller, and set my weary eyes on the waitress, I simply asked “do you guys have any food that’s suitable for children? This momma’s not doing dinner tonight.” The lady laughed kindly and showed me to a table where she handed me a kids’ menu, and immediately pulled out some crayons.
The menu had “Moo Juice” as a drink option. Yup, these guys know how to deal with kids. We almost had a tense stand-off at the absence of sausages, but eventually the promise of chips slathered in ketchup convinced Hawkeye not to make a scene and to sit down. To be honest, he was very well behaved for the most part given the fact that he can sometimes be prone to throwing tantrums in the evening due to overtiredness. The two waitresses in our area were fabulous at checking in with us and topping up the bread basket with extra slices of their cranberry-and-walnut bread (seriously, I could have happily eaten a whole loaf of that stuff). When it came time for ice cream dessert (it was included in the kids’ set menu, so why not?) I insisted the ice cream go in a bowl, but they gave us both a fancy (empty) waffle cone along which we ate on the way home.
But before we went home I had to settle the bill, which I asked for as soon as the dessert was ordered so that I could make a quick exit as necessary. The cheerful Hispanic-looking waitress obliged and dropped off the bill together with the restaurant business card.
I looked down at the card. Handwritten above the printed contact information for the restaurant was a name and a mobile number. Edel 085…
Um… what now? And also… Edel? I know this is modern, multicultural Ireland, but despite having good English the Hispanic-looking waitress definitely had a foreign accent and “Edel” is a very Irish name. If I had to pick a name myself, I would have thought she would be more of a “Maria”. I realise that’s stereotyping, but the fact is that Ireland has a lot of young workers from other European countries working here so her looks and her accent were very much at odds with “Edel”.
There were so many ways I could have handled this, from the absolutely boring ignoring it to the various salacious scenarios. I picked a middle ground when she came back with the card reader.
“So…. do you babysit?”
“I’m sorry, what?” She looked at me in confusion. “I don’t really…?” It was evident the question took her by surprise.
“Oh…” I tried to figure out where to go from here. “It’s just… well… you gave me a mobile number and I thought that maybe… you were offering babysitting. But if you don’t babysit, then I have to say, I’m very flattered but… I don’t swing that way and…. well… I’m married, so…”
You know that expression you sometimes read in books where the heroine’s mouth “forms into the perfect ‘o'”? Yeah. This was it. Her face went from perplexed, to shocked, to that well-known combination of amused embarrassment and she burst out laughing.
“Oh my god I am so sorry!” She exclaimed, grabbing the card. “I didn’t even notice that, it must be one of my colleagues who wrote that for someone else. I’ll get you a new one straightaway.”
I decided to take her at face value. The other waitress who was at my table occasionally did plausibly look like an “Edel” but she wasn’t the one who was handling our bill and, frankly, if you’re bold enough to write your mobile number on a business card chances are you’re not going to suddenly chicken out by getting a colleague to deliver the business card for you.
So there you have it. In exchange for extravagantly treating my three year old son to a fancy dinner I may have accidentally-sort-of-but-not-really been propositioned by another woman and that laugh alone was well worth the price of a meal.