So, Madam, on your plate tonight you have a Career Re-think and a dose of Covid about to take hold. And the dog has IBS. And the water meter outside your property has been stolen, so now there’s clean, drinkable water pouring down your street. Pity- I just hate that kind of waste, don’t you?
But that’s not what I ordered at all! I exclaimed. Take this back immediately, please, and bring me what I asked for.
The waiter smiled brightly. Aha! But that’s the thing, you see- at this establishment you don’t always get what you asked for. In fact, you rarely get what you asked for, especially on Pot-luck Night, which is most nights, by the way.
Well, I want what HE’s got, I said pointing to the table ahead of me. He’s got White Sandy Beaches and Tour of the Baltics lined up on his plate- that’s what I ordered.
The waiter was polite and patient. Again, Pot-luck, he said. Anything’s possible in this place. Did you notice our signage when you came in? He pointed to the ceiling with a sweep of his white-sleeved arm. I looked up. “Life’s Rich Tapestry” in bold blue neon letters winked down at me.
Well, I can’t deal with all this. It’s overwhelming. Maybe just leave the dog thing: I can probably handle that. I’ll take her to the vet. But the other stuff? A career re-think when I’m nearing 60? A dose of Covid? And don’t you know that COJ is in disarray- do you know how long it might take for them to replace a stolen water meter? No thanks. Take this plate away please.
Well, I’m afraid that’s not an option here. The waiter was smiling again, perhaps a little condescending this time. You see, you can’t leave until you’ve finished what’s on your plate. That’s the deal, I’m afraid. Just the way it is.
I sensed angry tears coming on, a sense of helplessness and even fear. I wanted to run away, anywhere at all, just out of here.
The waiter sat down just then, in the empty chair opposite me. His smile had softened as he spoke to me in low tones. That man over there, the one with the Beach and the Baltics on his plate- well don’t be too envious. He’s a bit of a nasty piece of work, and he doesn’t know it yet, but we’ll be dishing up some ‘Just Desserts’ for him once he’s finished his main course. He’ll be smiling on the other side of his face when I bring THAT to his table.
So, he continued, as he stood up. Best you get started, you’ve got a lot on your plate there. You’ll be fine, he added. Just remember to go with the flow. Oh, and don’t forget to self-isolate when you get home.
What do you mean? I asked.
Self-isolate, he repeated. For 10 days, for the Covid. Who knows? You might even enjoy the R &R. It’ll help you to prepare for all the other challenges ahead.
But how do I get the dog to the vet if I have to self-isolate? I asked.
He shrugged. You’ll figure it out, he said. You’ve got friends, family, neighbours. These things are sometimes sent to test us. And it’s often all part of something bigger. He was looking up at the ceiling. I followed his gaze. The signed winked at me again, like a gentle reminder. “Life’s Rich Tapestry.”
#SoCS Writing Prompts, Sat 26/11/22: ‘On Your Plate’.
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