Don’t ask me how it happened, but yesterday I found myself eating at Chevy’s.
I use the word ‘eating’ generously because mostly what I was doing was sitting, waiting, and watching the hostess, bartender, manager and busboy all meander around as if I were invisible.
Okay, okay, here’s how it happened: I just moved, and have been running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to take care of all of the things that go along with a major life change. I spent the first five hours of yesterday afternoon unpacking, organizing, and shopping for those missing essentials you never know you need until you move and realize they’re missing. Then I met the amazing Patrick from Green Monster Clean over at my old apartment so that he could get started on steam cleaning the carpets there. Then I ran a few more errands and was heading home when I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything all day and suddenly, I was starving.
I looked left and saw a plethora of independently-owned restaurants with great food and service; I looked right and saw Chevy’s. “Ah screw it,” I thought. “They’ll be faster and cheaper, and there’s free parking.” Money is obviously a concern after moving and with a Major Spending Holiday right around the corner. So much so that it propelled me into a restaurant that I don’t even like, because I knew I’d have free chips and salsa sitting in front of my face within seconds of sitting down, and the thought of that made me break my own damn ‘No Chains’ rule like a dummy.
When I walked in to the nearly-empty turquoise and clay-orange festooned lobby, I looked around and decided to sit at the bar, assuming that the bartender/customer proximity would translate to speedier service. Ha, ha, haaaaaaa!
I sat down, cleared the space in front of me of dirty wadded up napkins, mysterious leftover foodstuffs, and a heavily sweating bucket of empty beer bottles, then dove into my chips and salsa…once they arrived five minutes after the bartender acknowledged me. After another five minutes or so he asked if I’d like something to drink, to which I replied “water.” I love an afternoon margarita as well as the next gal, but I didn’t want to reek of booze at school pick-up later, and I’d forgotten my gum.
Three minutes went by and viola! Water.
Keep in mind that I was sitting directly across the bar from the ice bin and sink, so I’m really not sure what took so long, considering the bartender never went anywhere, and the other two customers there were busy talking amongst themselves. Instead he turned around and pushed some buttons on his phone, then stared off into space for a while. Once the water was in front of me, I asked if I could please see a menu. I read said menu, set it down to indicate that I was ready, finished all of the chips, salsa and water, then was finally asked what I’d like to order.
At this point enough time had slipped by that I was starting to worry about making it to school pick-up on time, even though I’d started with an hour-and-a-half to spare. I ordered the Tortilla Soup because, hey, it’s soup! Soup is traditionally fast, even when you have to put some crispy tortilla strips and fresh avocado on top.
While I waited…and waited…a man sat two stools down from me and chatted with the bartender, who told him how much he hates his job and would like to quit. The man listened patiently. He then sat for a while. The manager came over and made some jovial small talk, then went on his way. The man continued to…sit. The bartender came back. I put on my best I’m getting a bit frantic here because this soup is taking a really long-ass time and I’ve got places to be face. Luckily he noticed and said “I’ll go and get your soup now.”
After a few minutes he placed before me a weird clay ramekin full of broth, corn (of the frozen variety), tomatoes (of the canned variety), onions, some small cubes of avocado and chicken (of the I-have-no-idea-but-I-was-kinda-scared variety), and a heaping pile of not only a few crispy tortilla strips, but what looked like broken up chips as well. Bonus! I love having it look like the bottom of all the chip baskets have just been dumped on my food!
After I started eating my ‘They Should Be Ashamed of Themselves for Calling This Tortilla Soup But I’m at Chevy’s So What the Hell Did I Expect’ soup, the bartender called over to the man who had been patiently sitting near me for a good 20 minutes to see what he’d like. “Whiskey Sour,” he answered. Eight minutes later his cocktail arrived and I’d finished my soup and was waiting to pay.
Yadda yadda, you know the rest of this story. The moral of which is: When you think you might save time and money by opting for a chain rather than any of the many other options you see – turn left.