Feed me, Seymour!

I should have saved that last post slug for this one, given the debacle in New Orleans and our rather strange and quite poor dining experience today.

The day started off well: a visit to the house to plan out the front pathing and landscaping, an eyeball measurement of the first garden area, and just all sorts of plans in general for the outside of the house. Then a trip to Lowe’s and Home Depot for some peat and perlite to lighten up the potting mix in some of the planters holding some very old plants – plants that my grandmother used to own and tend. Got that, looked at the plants, including some tomato and pepper plants that were already fruiting in their cups (didn’t buy any, since I have some flats seeded, something I’ll probably post later), picked up a few miscellaneous things at Home Depot, then decided it was lunchtime.

And that’s where a piece of our karma broke off like an iceberg calving and crashing into the sea.

The three of us were starving, and there was an Applebee’s right in front of the Home Depot, so we decided to pop in and grab a bite. It’s a Sunday, and the place is fairly busy, but it is not that bad since the after church crowd has thinned. We stand and wait. And wait. A server comes by, puts some menus away, and says “She should be right with y’all in a few minutes.”

Nope. We’re too hungry and not interested in waiting around. Mom has always like the Great American Cafe, so we decide to head there (in Mandarin, for those familiar with the area). When we arrive, we find that it has closed, there’s a huge sign out front that the site is for lease, and that someone has a sense of humor: there’s a printed note on the door saying the location has closed and apologizing for any inconvenience.

As luck would have it, there is a Chili’s in the same outparcel area, so we go there. We’re seated quickly, only to have five or six servers pass the table, at least two of whom were waiting tables in the same area. What do we get? Nothing except irritated. We leave. Mom tells one of the greeters about our issue, and we walk next door to Mama Fu’s and Moe’s, where we get food to go. The girl taking our order at Mama Fu’s isn’t unpleasant, exactly, but she isn’t friendly, clearly does not want to be there, and doesn’t speak either loudly or distinctly enough for us to understand her without some intense listening. Still, they did manage to get our order correct and we did manage to get our food and go home.

I went back to work, and everyone else took naps, because we were headed back out to Sears later, to look at stuff: yard tractors and clothes and shoes. Which we did – we found a tractor, which will be delivered in late April after we’ve closed and gotten a little settled in the new place. We also bought an aerator attachment, to make tilling easier. One of the problems with construction that doesn’t involve constant turning or working on the ground in the outer lying areas of the plot is that the ground becomes quite hard and compacted from no ground cover, no use, and being driven over by heavy equipment and vehicles. It will also be handy for the area which will be the garden. Everyone else picked up some things as well.

And then, our bad karma continued. In the outparcel of the Orange Park mall is a Johnny Carino’s (which used to be a Chevy’s, which used to be a Rio Bravo that actually had some decent seafood enchiladas, but that’s a story for a different time). By now, it’s about 8:30 Sunday evening, and things are very, very quiet at the restaurant. There is virtually no one in the place, and the only people who were not eating, besides us, were a couple standing outside smoking and smooching. In we went.

Only to stand at the host station for five minutes, waiting for someone to seat us. I have never, in a single day, been to two different places where they just haven’t had someone pop up to the host station and do their job. After five minutes, we took their grease pencil and wrote a note on the seating laminate: We waited for five minutes and were not seated at 8:30 PM Sunday night. Party of three. We left.

Mom and I walked out, and my sister went to track someone down. We had seen a woman chatting with a table of diners, who glanced up at us twice. this was the woman who was supposed to seat us. She told my sister that she was seating someone else, but we could see that she was simply chatting and handing out boxes. Another place to cross off the list.

Since you can’t go a dozen yards without tripping over a restaurant, though, it was no problem at all for us to just hop in the car, mosey along less than half a mile, and go to Carrabba’s (still in Orange Park, for those following along). What happened?

Well, we were seated within a minute and had a server (Anna) at our table within another minute. Everyone was very pleasant, the service was fast, friendly, personable and Anna didn’t look like she wanted to kick us out as quickly as possible so she could start winding down. We ate, paid, and then headed back to the house, where everyone else promptly went to bed and I just as promptly went back to work.

Overall, outside of the dining parts of the day, it was quite a nice day spent with the fam. We’re all in the excited kid, are-we-there-yet phase about the house…

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