…they’d be something like this.
(A middle-aged couple emerge from a taxi, smiling, happy, looking forward to an evening of good food and fine wines in each other’s company. They enter the door of the restuarant, over which is displayed a sign reading: “11,541 Dishes Served Without Dead Customer”)
Male Diner: Hello, we’re…
Waitress: If you’d just like to step over to that counter over there, sir. (pointing to a counter adjacent to the main entrance, behind which sits a uniformed man)
Male Diner: Huh? Oh, okay. (they shuffle over to the counter, looking somewhat confused)
Uniformed Man: (pointing to a ledger) Please sign in.
Diners: Eh? Oh, okay. (they each write their name in the ledger, wondering why this is necessary)
Uniformed Man: Okay, thanks. Here are your badges. (He hands over 2 large, rectangular badges with DINER written in large red letters across them. They are a lot thicker than they should be, because for some reason there is a plan of the building and the adjacent car park on the back of it) Make sure you wear them at all times when you are in the restaurant, and hand them back in when you leave. (the couple shuffle back to where the waitress is standing, the badges hanging awkwardly from their lapels.)
Waitress: Oh, you’re back. So, what can I do for you?
Female Diner: Oh, I booked a table for two tonight, under the name Wendy.
Waitress: Let’s see…Wendy…Wendy…Wendy…hmmm. There is no Wendy here. Do you have another name?
Female Diner: No, I booked it under Wendy.
Waitress: Oh, hang on. Did you ask for smoking or non-smoking?
Female Diner: Non-smoking.
Waitress: And who did you speak to?
Female Diner: Olga, I think. Yes, it was Olga.
Waitress: Ah, that explains it! You see, Olga is the one you need to deal with for non-smoking tables. I only deal with smoking tables. I can’t help you. You need to speak to Olga.
Female Diner: Really? That’s most odd. And where is Olga? (looking around)
Waitress: Oh, she’s not in this restaurant. She works in another restaurant. If you go out the door, up the street, cross over when you get to the pub and…
Male Diner: Eh? What the hell are you on about? Why do we have to talk to somebody in another building? Why can’t you show us to our seats?
Waitress: It’s not my job. I told you, I only deal with smoking tables. I’ll tell you what, let me give you Olga’s number. (she checks on a chart on the wall and scribbles down Olga’s number) Here you go.
(Male Diner gets out his mobile phone, looking rather pissed off. Taking the scribbled note, he taps in the number and holds the phone to his ear. Twenty seconds later, and he hangs up, looking even more pissed off.)
Male Diner: I got an out-of-restaurant autoreply. Apparently she is on leave for three months. I need to contact her colleague Oxana instead. I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Do you know who this Oxana is?
Waitress: Yes, it’s me. I’m Oxana. You need to speak to me.
Male Diner: What the fuck? You? Did you know this Olga was on leave?
Oxana: Yes, of course.
Female Diner: (exasperated) Then why did you…? Okay, forget it, just show us to our tables.
(Oxana pouts, and struts off to a table, pointing at it with a long, red fingernail. The couple sit down. Twenty minutes pass, and nobody comes to serve them. Oxana has long since disappeared.)
Male Diner: (shouting) Waiter! Waiter! Anyone there?
(Oxana comes strolling back in, with a surprised look on her face)
Male Diner: Could we have some menus, please? We’ve been sitting here for twenty minutes.
Oxana: Oh. Erm, okay. Menus? Okay. Do you have an email address? Maybe it would be better if I emailed you the menus, then you could…
Male Diner: (raising his voice) Just give us the menus and stop pissing about!
Oxana: (pouting) Certainly, sir. (Oxana trots off to get the menus, her high-heels making an indignant tip-tapping on the floorboards as she goes. She returns, still pouting, and silently hands out the menus.)
(Twenty minutes pass)
Male Diner: (shouting) Waiter! Waiter! Anyone there?
(A man comes running in, all smiles, wearing a peculiar uniform with an odd logo on, a picture of another restaurant)
Man: Hello! I’m your waiter for this evening! How can I help?
Male Diner: Well, we’d like to order some wine, please.
Waiter: Certainly sir! Which wine would you like?
Male Diner: We’ll take the red Chateaux Neuf de Pape, please.
Waiter: Certainly sir!
(The waiter scurries off, returning with a bottle of red Chateaux Neuf de Pape. He shows the bottle to the diner, and pours a little into a glass for tasting. The man takes a sip, and nods his approval. Just then, a man in a hard-hat, fluorescent vest, and steel-toed boots runs in from a side door brandishing a yellow cylindrical device which he shoves under the wine-taster’s nose)
Hard-hat: Please breathe into this sir!
Male Diner: What the…
Hard-hat: Thank you sir! (he looks at the device, which has beeped and displayed a red LED) Oh. It appears you have been consuming alcohol. Please breathe into it again. (he shoves it under the diner’s nose once more)
Male Diner: Listen, I… (the device beeps and the red LED comes on again)
Hard-hat: Thank you sir. Yes, it does appear that you have been drinking. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.
Male Diner: What the hell? I tasted some wine which your waiter poured for me, we are in a restuarant, aren’t we?
Hard-hat: Our waiter? No, he’s not our waiter. He works for some other restaurant. Or at least we think he does.
Male Diner: Then what the hell is he doing here? What is going on?
Hard-hat: He’s a subcontractor. We brought him in to help out because Oxana is bloody useless. I expect you noticed. Yeah, sorry about her. She lives locally you see, and we have to employ her, otherwise we’ll get shut down for failing to empty our bins properly.
Male Diner: (completely confused) But what the hell has that got to do with anything? I don’t care where your waiter come from, the fact is he…
Hard-hat: Nothing to do with me, sir. I’m just in charge of health and safety. You need to see the bloke who manages the subcontracted staff. In the meantime, tell your friend here to keep an eye on him. He’s bloody dangerous if you ask me. But I’m afraid you are going to have to leave.
Male Diner: Me? Why? What the hell for?
Hard-hat: Being drunk. The alcometer proves it. Now, I’ll need this… (he grabs the DINER card on his lapel and yanks it off) … okay, now you have to go. Don’t worry, I’ll sign you out. (Before the diner knows what’s happened, the uniformed man behind the counter has hoiked him up by the collar and hussled him out the door, where he stands bewildered in the street)
Waiter: Shall I pour your wine, madam?
(Female diner leaves her table, throwing the DINER card at the waiter in disgust, and joins the ejected man on the street, where they phone for a taxi and a pizza. Meanwhile, another man has walked into the restuarant, taken his place at a table, and is reading a menu.)
Waiter: Would you like to order, sir?
Diner: Yeah, I’d like the steak please, medium rare.
Waiter: Could you write that down?
Waiter: Could you write that down?
Diner: What the fuck? Can’t you do that?
Waiter: Well, no as it happens. You see, I’m a contractor and I’m not authorised to enter the order in the system having first written my own order. In fact, I’m not authorised to enter your order in the system at all, but if you speak to…
Diner: (shouting) Listen, I couldn’t care less what you’re authorised to do, just go into the kitchen and tell the chef to cook me a steak, medium rare! It really isn’t hard!
Waiter: At once, sir. (scuttles off, muttering under his breath)
(Forty minutes pass)
Diner: (shouting) Waiter! Waiter! Anyone there?
Waiter: Yes sir, I’m here. How can I help?
Diner: My steak?
Waiter: Ah yes, your steak. Coming right up. (The waiter disappears through a door into the kitchen. He returns with what looks like a lump of flattened charcoal on his plate)
Diner: What the hell is this? Is this supposed to be my steak?
Waiter: Certainly, sir. That’s your steak.
Diner: What the hell has happened to it? I asked for medium rare! What’s it been cooked with, a blowtorch?
Waiter: I have no idea. Would you like me ask the chef?
Diner: (raising his voice) Yes I would! Ask him if he knows what medium rare is! (The waiter shuffles off towards the kitchen. He comes back a few minutes later.)
Waiter: No, he hasn’t a clue. He wants to know if you wouldn’t mind helping him, because…
Diner: (shouting) You what? What the fuck? The chef doesn’t know how to cook a steak? Then what’s he doing here? Where did you get him from?
Waiter: I didn’t get him from anywhere, I’m just a contractor. So don’t yell at me. But I heard that he was a car-park attendant in head office and as part of the company policy of moving people into different departments to do different roles, he is here on a six month assignment as head chef.
Diner: A car park attendant? That’s who you have cooking your food back there?
Waiter: Yes, him and a load of contractors. Now I don’t know about all of them, but I knew one back in prison and he…
Diner: Listen, I don’t give a shit. I’m starving, just bugger off and let me eat this lump of charcoal. (He picks up a knife and fork and cuts into it. It’s tougher than a Commanche indian’s moccasin. Before he can put anything anywhere near his mouth, Hard-hat comes running back into the room clutching a clipboard.)
Hard-hat: Stop! Stop! Stop! (He stands directly in front of the diner, crossing his arms in front of his chest. He places a white card with a red octagon on the table) Sir, I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave.
Diner: What? What the hell for?
Hard-hat: (reading from his clipboard) You have endangered the health and safety of yourself and the staff of this restaurant by: using a sharp utensil without carrying out a proper risk assessment; applying salt to a dish without wearing eye protection and making yourself aware of the nearest safety shower; opening a bottle of sauce without carrying out the proper COSHH assessment; attempting to consume food without first completing the Defensive Chewing Course, designed to avoid the biting of the tongue when masticating; failure to report the consumption of alcohol by your fellow diner earlier in the evening; and entering the restaurant without a local contract.
Diner: (standing, throwing his napkin on top of the blackened steak) Fine! Sod this place! Even the engineering consultants did a better job than this!
(The diner storms out the door, flinging his DINER badge at the waiter. Oxana, who has returned to her station, looks up from playing on her mobile phone and stifles a yawn. Hard-hat rushes outside and changes the sign above the door to “11,542 Dishes Served Without Dead Customer”)