Ever end up wearing someone else's dinner while dining out? That's precisely what happened to my friend and I while eating at Tavern United on McPhillips tonight.
Today was a lousy day from the get-go. The bus was running behind schedule, which in turn made me late for work by about five minutes. Then, two of the guys called in - one to say he was sick, the other to say he had a flat tire and would be a few minutes late ("a few minutes" turned out to be two hours), leaving us terribly short-staffed.
Then the phones started going nuts. Yes, it seems like everyone in the province is back from Christmas holidays, and decided they needed hose right then and there. No worries, we're used to the volume and pace, and were able to accommodate nearly all of our customers. However, no sooner were we caught up when the company network went down...
Being the most computer-savvy guy at our branch (See? My mad science pays off!), it usually falls to me to solve any computer related issues. After nearly eight years on the job, I'm well acquainted with this particular scenario. I got the guys to turn all the computers off (it's easier than walking them through reconnecting to the network), ran to our electrical room, power-cycled the router and switch, and fired up my computer.
Tried it again, waiting a couple of minutes longer between powering the router off and powering it back on. Still no go.
I called our branch in Saskatoon to see if they were down as well. Usually, if one branch is down, we're all down. Not this time, though. Saskatoon was up... so I called our head office in BC, they were up, too. I explained our predicament, so our beloved IT person checked with our provider, who in turn told us they showed no problems (it's a managed service) and that we "should be up and running". I double-checked everything, tried telnetting into the router (via the management/maintenance port) from my "unofficial, non-sanctioned management console", reported my findings, and checked my system again - still no go.
With our provider, our IT person, and myself stumped, our IT person said "CJ, try replacing the cable from the router to the switch.'
Damned if it didn't work.
We were all so busy looking for a big problem that we ignored the little one. The cable was working intermittently, enough to register a proper connection on the router and switch, but not enough to sustain a connection under load.
It's days like these I'm glad I got kicked out of Red River College's CAP* course. I couldn't fathom doing this for a living.
With the network down for several hours, both my boss and inside sales cohort were running their respective asses off, doing physical stock checks, handwriting orders, and answering phones. I tried to help out where I could between power-cycles, and somehow we managed to keep up.
Suffice it to say, when 5 o'clock rolled around, we were all happy to get the Hell out of there.
When I left the building, my buddy Fry was waiting, as we'd made arrangements to grab dinner and a drink after work. "Great idea," I thought, "I could use a Guinness or ten right about now".
We arrived at Tavern United on McPhillips (our usual spot) around 5:30, and quickly grabbed a seat and ordered drinks. The first Guinness went down a little too quickly, so I ordered another when our server came to take our dinner order.
While Fry and I were talking, we became aware that not all was well at the booth behind us. The couple behind me were having some sort of disagreement, and it was apparent the argument was heating up. I put it out of my mind once our food (and my Guinness) arrived. Fry and I were wrapped up in our conversation, taking the odd drink or bite while the other was speaking. I took a swig of my Guinness and no sooner did I put the glass on the table when we heard a man's voice yell, "WELL, FUCK YOU!".
Something whizzed past my head and my glass suddenly shattered - showering me with Irish Stout and glass fragments - while Fry threw his arms up as if to shield himself from something. About a second later, I said, "What the Hell...?" and in reply came a sheepish, defeated "I'm sorry" from the guy in the booth behind me.
The guy in the booth behind us had thrown his plate at his female dining companion, which missed her and landed on our table, shattering his plate, my nearly full pint glass, my dinner plate, and covering both Fry and I in beer, pop, and our respective dinners. The guy's untouched chicken wrap ended up in my lap.
I picked up my broken pint glass and put it at the end of our table - our code for "REFILL, PLEASE!". When our server came over with my refill, she noticed the mess. "What happened?" she asked me, "Did you spill your drink?"
Before I could say anything, Fry deadpanned, "No, the gentleman in the next booth decided to throw his plate."
"He threw his plate at me", came a barely audible voice from the next booth. You could hear she was close to breaking into tears.
Our server moved us to a different (drier) booth and told us they'd make us two new dinners, on the house. She then walked over to the booth behind us and, noting the lady was starting to cry, said "Come with me" and led her away while the bartender led the guy away. I took my first look at our inadvertent assailant and noted that both he and his lady friend were around my age, maybe a couple of years younger... in other words, old enough to know better.
I don't know what happened to the happy couple after that. The staff went out of their way to apologize to us, and Fry told them they weren't the ones who should be apologizing (Well, he did offer that sheepish, defeated "I'm sorry"...).
Fry and I spent the next hour-and-a-half soaked nearly to the skin in our booth, shooting the shit and replaying the events of the evening. We talked about how much we've changed in the last few years. A decade ago (my "lost years") , I would have "put the boots" to the guy, and Fry at the very least would have gathered up the mess and dumped it on the guy's head. Thankfully, age and court-mandated anger management courses have mellowed us a lot, and the guy got little more than a dirty look from us as we were moved to a new booth.
Cooler heads prevail, y'know.
I looked at Fry and said, "Fry, there's one thing I regret not doing after that... unpleasantness."
"What's that?" he asked.
I replied, "I wish I'd grabbed the chicken wrap from my lap and..."
"Thrown it at him?" Fry asked, "Shoved it down his throat?"
"Nah," I said, "I wish I'd had the presence of mind to grab the chicken wrap from my lap, happily exclaim 'What the...? Hey! Chicken! Oh Boy!', then taken a bite outta the wrap."
A shocked look crossed Fry's face.
"No more beer for you, CJ," he said.
Our server brought us our bill (they charged us for my three Guinness and Fry's pop) and we grabbed our coats to leave. A large chunk of broken glass fell from my inner coat and hit the floor - a souvenir of the earlier events. It was then I noticed the nice, warm wool jacket I wear under my leather coat was soaked through with Guinness... which wouldn't exactly keep me warm in the cold air outside. So I threw my leather coat on and carried the wool one under my arm.
I went to pay the tab, and our server, noting that I was still wet, asked "Are you going to be okay outside in that?"
I smiled and said I'd be fine.
"Are you sure?" she asked, wide-eyed, "It's pretty cold out there".
"Don't worry", I assured her, "This isn't the first time I've left a pub cold and drenched in beer".
Sometimes, ya gotta laugh.
*CAP course = Computer Analyst/Programmer.