A Play in Three Acts
By Eric D. Snider
ERIC, a local man
JOSH, Eric’s research assistant/consultant
JJANA WITH TWO J’S, Eric and Josh’s friend who spells her name wrong on purpose
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF PAINT, the waitress
FUTILITY AND NEGLECT, non-speaking roles, present for symbolic purposes
(Enter ERIC, JOSH and JJANA WITH TWO J’S, at a table at Village Inn. Enter also SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF AN INFLAMMATION. Enter also FUTILITY AND NEGLECT)
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF A MOSQUITO BITE: (surly) What would you like?
ERIC: An Oreo shake. (aside) This is what I always get when I go to Village Inn. I normally patronize the restaurant in Provo’s East Bay region, but this night I have chosen the one in Orem instead. Surely, however, the food available is the same in either establishment, as they are both Village Inn. Though they are separate in location, they are one in purpose and menu options, much like the Trinity.
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF A FIRE ENGINE THAT’S ON FIRE: (sneering) We don’t have shakes on the late-night menu.
ERIC: (aghast) But I always get a shake, even late at night, at the other Village Inn! I also question your calling 10:45 p.m. “late-night.”
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF A SUN-BURNED IRISHMAN: (spitting fire) We don’t do them here.
ERIC: (continuing his futile protest) And when I worked at Denny’s, that’s pretty much all people wanted after 10 p.m., was shakes.
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF CLOTTED BLOOD: (as venomous serpents emerge from her eye sockets) You worked at Denny’s? Eww.
(End Act I)
* * *
(Same. One second later.)
ERIC: I’ll have a bacon cheeseburger, then.
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF A FIRE ANT: (while poisoning another person’s appetizer) And what would you like to drink?
ERIC: (still bitter) A shake.
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF THE GAPING MAW OF HELL ITSELF: (while maiming a nearby child) We don’t have shakes.
ERIC: (still bitter) I know.
JOSH: You could totally write a column about this.
JJANA WITH TWO J’S: Can I be in your column?
(Exit JJANA WITH TWO J’S. End Act II.)
* * *
(Same. Thirty minutes later.)
JOSH: Can I have a piece of cherry pie?
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF CHERRY PIE: (while committing regicide) I’m not sure if we have any….
ERIC: (still bitter) It’s in the same box as the shakes.
SURLY WAITRESS WITH UNNATURALLY RED HAIR THE COLOR OF THE ROSE PETALS IN “AMERICAN BEAUTY”: (destroys American infrastructure; unleashes deadly viral infection; ends all life as we know it)
JOSH: You could totally write a column about this.
ERIC: (still bitter) No, I couldn’t.
(Exeunt all. End of the play.)
This was a mildly amusing incident that I thought would seem more amusing if I told about it in this format. I had been reading a lot of Shakespeare around this time, which no doubt seeped into my brain (and which is certainly why "regicide" -- the act of killing a king, a common Shakespearean event -- occurred in the stage directions).
The basic story is true. Some parts have been fictionalized quite obviously. But the fact remains that Village Inn in Orem wouldn't serve shakes after 10 (or so she said -- see below), and I have sworn in my wrath that I shall never return there.
If they don't have Village Inns where you live, you probably have Friendly's or JB's instead. It's basically Denny's in terms of menu and prices, and usually open pretty late, too, but not as seedy as Denny's. The Garrens Comedy Troupe went to the Provo Village Inn after their Friday night shows every week from 1996 through 2001, when the group disbanded.
The Tuesday after this was printed, I came into the office to find the following on my voice mail -- the first angry voice mail I'd ever received. The caller was very bold, as you'll soon see ... but she also called at 9:20 p.m., a time when she was sure I wouldn't actually be there. I'm glad she did, though, because it enabled me to transcribe her message, word-for-word. Please note that I am not certain what some of it means, either. And Mom, you probably shouldn't read this. It will just make you upset.
Hi, Eric, this is Allison. I'm just calling in regards to your "finding drama in the least likely of places at the Village Inn." [the headline, more or less, that ran with the column in the paper] I think you're a f****** punk. That's one of my favorite waitresses that you were regarding, and you know what? She doesn't look nearly as bad as you. You look like you had a condom wrapped over your head and hung out f****** wet.
Well, I certainly do regret "regarding" one of her favorite waitresses. I'll never regard another waitress as long as I live.
I checked my e-mail next, and found this missive.
After reading your Snide Remarks Column on 6/16/2000, I just wanted to let you know that I frequent this Village Inn because of this red-headed waitress. Simply put, I've never had a server with such a perfect balance of personality and service. [Me neither: No personality, and no service.] Why should she bend the rules for any average guy that walks in? This seems to a common problem with "sit-down" restaurants, and I don't believe it was fair to mention this specific server at the Orem Village Inn. Singling her out could be damaging to her, financially and otherwise, and I feel she is at least owed an apology.
I responded to Ryan and pointed out that if she really is as good as he says she is, she won't suffer financially. Even if people recognize her from my description in the column, they will surely soon see that I was wrong and tip her accordingly.
More importantly, though, I told him that the column was meant to be an exaggeration. I took a very minor inconvenience and made it out to be the worst tragedy in the world. The whole thing bothered me only in the way tiny annoyances bother me: I rant and rave about it, and then more or less forget it ever happened. No big deal.
Next in my e-mail was a letter from the waitress herself! Cover your ears, Mom.
You thought that I would not write you an email. [That is a fairly safe assumption, actually.] I am that waitress b**** that waited on you and your wonderful friends that night you came in. What a life you must have to make people feel so great about themselves. Let me tell you, you are a joy to wait on. I make 2.13 an hour. I deal with asssholes [really bad ones, I guess, with THREE S's] all day long. You are just one of those people I guess. Thank you very much for putting me in the newspaper. I have never had an article done about me before. I am going to send copies to all of my family members. I don't think that I am surly at all. [Yeah, calling all your customers a**holes is far from surly.] Thank you for killing my job. Thank You, you four eye d*** nose loser. Love, Your Biggest Fan. [I'm guessing that's sarcasm]
There was some discussion over whether her last sentence meant she'd been fired, but we soon verified that she had not.
And THEN I found out something very interesting: The waitress was LYING about Village Inn not serving shakes after 10! Indeed, the Jjana with two J's mentioned in this column ate there late one night a few weeks later. She asked for a shake, and got one. She expressed surprise to the waitress, saying she had been told a few weeks earlier that Village Inn didn't serve shakes after 10. The waitress said that's not true, but that sometimes servers will say that just because they don't feel like MAKING shakes after 10. If I ever felt bad about making fun of the red-haired waitress in the column, I didn't anymore.