August 13, 2003

A Frank Message to Annoying Restaurant Patrons

I was having a late breakfast this morning at a wonderful little diner where you give your order directly to the cooks and they make it right there in front of you. I had already ordered and was waiting on my food, when the man next to me said (to the Hispanic cook): "An omelette, por favor."

Try and picture with me, if you can, what this man was like. He was one of those upper-middle-class, middle-aged Americans who has 'executive' written all over him. He was was tanned and wearing khaki shorts with a polo shirt and was having a conversation about liabilities and sums of money in the hundreds of thousands. He was, in short, irritating by design before he even opened his mouth to talk to the cook.

Anyway, then he turned and said to his companion: "What do you want? The same? Okay... Dos omelettes por favor."

Hey! I have news for you, Mr Linguistic Genius! Not only will a short order cook be perfectly aware of the words 'two' and 'please', but a native speaker of Spanish is not going to be impressed by your knowledge of the words 'dos' and 'por favor'. Maybe if you knew the Spanish word for omelette, or, you know, any Spanish word that you couldn't pick up from watching Sesame Street, he would have been a little impressed, but frankly I doubt it. If a Spanish person came up to you and said 'Two omelettes please', I don't think you'd be too astounded (probably just a little confused).

So, I just want to say to all of you out there who like 'reaching out' to your foreign wait staff: you've probably eaten a lot of spit over the years. And if you haven't, well, just because you deserve it I'm going to hunt you down and spit in your mouth. Try saying that in Spanish.

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