I’ve (uncharacteristically, it must be said) felt supremely relaxed throughout the past 30 weeks, really chilled out and untroubled and even-keeled, but the last few days, I’ve noticed A Worrying Change. Things are irritating me again. Like really, really pissing me off, and this morning I woke up so tired and so grumpy I have been half snarling all day. Oh no! I found myself thinking earlier in the week, fuming in a store about some stupid thing, I feel like myself again! Where did the magic hormones go? And how can I get them back again? TAKE THE UNBLEMISHED SKIN BACK – seriously, I would rather get a lifetime’s supply of that love drug I’ve been coasting on for the past six months!
Please don’t go! Stay a while!
What’s making me steam like my old self today is the rise of the group booking. I am simply trying to make a lunch reservation as part of the Festival of Llew (his birthday’s coming up), and because we’re 10 people, we have to – have to – have a set menu whether we like it or not. This riles me from the outset, because what the restaurant is saying is that the more people we bring into their venue, and the more money we drop at their door, the less we will receive in return. Beside me sit the forms I am now forced to print, fill out and fax back in order to secure our table. If we were a table of 9, I wouldn’t have to do anything but call and leave my name and number. Then there’s the set menu. Instead of being able to peruse the full menu, I have to choose, on everyone else’s behalf, three options. I have to decide – right now – if everyone’s having dessert, or no one is. There is a fixed price, which exceeds what you would pay for the same two courses from the regular menu. How does that work? Why are we paying more for bringing in a larger table? Aren’t large tables good for business? You bet they are. Shouldn’t we be rewarded? Not on your life.
Then there’s the wine list. This place has a great list; it’s one of the reasons why Llew wanted to go there. Do you think we’re allowed to order what we wish from the full list? It seems not. No, they want me to choose one white, one red, one beer and so on now – on my fax, you see, without which my booking is NOT confirmed – and everyone will be forced to drink that for the day. Now, I worked in hospitality right throughout university, so I understand the argument about the limited food menu even though I think it’s a fucking cheek, but I don’t accept it’s so desperately difficult for the wait staff to deal with our beverage order. What if we want to try a few different wines? Well, it looks like we’ll have to un-invite a couple of Llew’s friends. I’ve emailed back saying I think that would be a real shame, so I’m awaiting their response.
Finally, because wait, there’s more, for the privilege of being punished at every turn for lining their pockets with group gold, we earn a 6% charge on top of our bill. It’s for nothing other than yet another slap on the coin purse for being rude enough to fill their restaurant.
As you might imagine, I am starting to lose my appetite. And yes, if it were a different story anywhere else, we would take our sucker selves off the reservation sheet and suggest they ram it up their arse. But it’s not. They all do it. Welcome to Sydney.