2 January 2012
It's just a shot away
For dinner last night, I went to a local restaurant that is part of a larger chain. I was given a number to place on my table, and a cup to fill with tea or with soda at a dispenser.
I placed the number on a table, filled the cup, and returned to the table to look through an art-supply catalogue that I had brought with me.
The catalogue is about 8 in × 10 in × ½ in (20.3 cm × 24.5 cm × 1.3 cm) — roughly the size of a residential telephone directory for a medium-sized American city — and illustrated with pictures of, well, art supplies.
At about the time that I'd got to the mannikins, I had emptied my cup, so I went back to get more tea. As I was taking care of that, I noticed that my food was delivered to my table.
When I returned, I discovered that some fellow had happily sat himself down before the plate, his
smart phone to one side, and was looking at the pictures of mannikins in the catalogue.
So, suddenly, he hears a deep, very angry voice, asking
You're going to take my food? and he looks up to see me. I'm not sure just how I looked to him, but probably like someone on the edge of violence. After a momentary pause, his mind apparently now wonderfully concentrated, he got-up quickly, explaining that he was at the next table, and thought that they'd brought his food while he was away.
Let's back-up a sec: This fellow hadn't merely mistaken one table for another — something that I suspect most of us, and certainly I, would be capable of doing — he was looking at the pictures in the rather large art-supply catalogue. One doubts that he actively imagined that a restaurant were in the habit of presenting such a catalogue along with one's meal. Rather, his mind was simply disengaged.
Here's the food! And, what's this? Oo! Shiny!
I have such low expectations of the mindfulness of other people that I believed his claim immediately, and indeed his order was brought to that next table not long afterwards. But I didn't much enjoy my meal nor the rest of the catalogue; my body was still geared-up for a fight.
Tags: everyday absurdity, everyday frustrations, mindfulness, mindlessness
I heard Adams tell this story on a talk show (as I think to David Letterman). Later Jan Harold Brunvand, the fellow who popularized the term, showed in a newspapaer column that it were an adaptation of an earlier story by another author.
I'm sorry to hear it. At least he got the helicopters right.