Ding ding, the tiny counter bell rings as the German backpackers step in from the chill of the mountain air. They overheard a conversation about this place in the lobby of their hostel and not having time or desire to wander in the cold they thought, this is us for the night.
The setting is a basement restaurant where the toilets are outside and upstairs, the decor grimy, tacky and positively lacking in any sense of expectation.
The maitre’d approaches from the kitchen upon hearing the high pitched sound. She looks positively annoyed.Yes, can I help you, she says impatiently.
We would like a table for two please, says the elegant looking German girl in perfect English.
Do you have a reservation?
Uh, no sorry.
Well, how do you expect us to know you are coming, seriously…
Really sorry we didn’t know.
So can we have the table?
As you can see, we are fully booked, says Leanne pointing to the near empty restaurant, If I could seat you, I could only offer you pizzas as all of our mains are spoken for!
Helga turns to Martin to see what he thinks and before she has had time to notice his facial expression, Leanne says, well I don’t have all day, what’s it going to be?
At this point, Martin who is quite amused by this power trippers demeanour and the angst that his sensible girlfriend is experiencing says, that would be fine.
Leanne says I need 15 minutes to reset the table, so come back then.
Ok. Can you tell me where the bathroom is? It’s outside and upstairs, says Leanne as she moves away from the reception counter and towards the kitchen.
Martin lays a reassuring hand on Helga’s shoulder and smiles, his smiles always make her feel like it’s going to be ok, so she smiles in turn.
As our gentle and accepting couple awaits Leanne’s pleasure, who is doing anything other than resetting an unused table, two burly gentlemen in what can only be, local dress, enter the XXXXXXX.
Hey Roger, says Cheryl, who has just entered the main foyer area, haven’t seen you for a while.
Hi Cheryl, answers Roger, this is Pete and we’ve been working on the lifts for the last week, the blanketing has been very interesting to work in… 106mm just yesterday.
I didn’t realise there was that much, says Leanne who also joins the conversation from across the room, where she is finally placing a bottle of water on the table for the very patient German couple.
How many are you tonight? Asks Cheryl smiling at Pete, whom she is clearly taken a fancy to.
Just us Cheryl, says Roger, what do you have left tonight, Leanne?
You can have the pick of the skewers, the ragu or the shanks, I suggest the shanks they are literally falling off the bone.
Wonderful, let us ponder over a pint of Paul’s special brew. Speaking of him, is he back from the….rest?
Yeah, he is in the kitchen now, we are taking it easy on him because of some people, she looks poignantly at the German couple, where Martin has an outraged expression on his usually calm and self-assured face, aren’t happy with the meals as they are and request variances. You know how anal he is, it’s taken him years to perfect his menu and any variation requires contemplation, so ultimately we won’t give him any variations because they only stress him out.
As Cheryl walks the locals to the table which up until that moment Martin and Helga thought was being prepared for them, Martin clears his throat and says, excuse me, in the direction of Leanne.
Leanne, although perceives his levelled annoyance, specifically ignores him by not turning to meet his eyes, instead, she calls out from the dimly lit corner of the restaurant, I’ll be with you in a minute.
She calls out to Cheryl, please sit the couple at table 17 and offer them a drink, they look like they can use one.
Benny from behind the bar walks over to the couple and says ‘ Hi I’m Benny can I get you a drink. He is very pleasant and exudes warmth and empathy for their situation, clearly, he is not a local.
That would be great, says Helga. I’ll have an espresso martini. Leanne overhearing the order says to Benny, “you can charge them for that because I don’t know what that is…”
Benny responds ” it’s a cocktail so it’s under cocktails…” and what about you sir?
What beer do you have, I like a Belgian if you have. Sure thing replies Benny and walks them over to table 17 by the front door.
My name is Martin and this is Helga, where are you from? He says warmly to Benny.
I’m from Tassie, just here for the season. I love to board but, who can afford to stay in this village.