What if I use a spoon for a fork?

I had a show out of town last week. Since the show ended at a fairly early hour, I went out for a bite to eat. I don’t really eat out much on the road, due to a couple of experiences that I choose not to share with you at this time. (Trust me. I’m doin’ you a favor.) It was either go out somewhere and grab a bite, or back to my room where I would eat 2 or 3 apples. I decide to get out of the room, and eat the apples in the lobby.

I’m kidding.

I go to a place where I know they’ll have a fairly decent salad, and when it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. It was big enough to call a “light meal” and not so small that it should have been served at a wedding reception before the main course was brought out. (I think you can picture what I’m thinkin’ of: 12 pieces of lettuce, 3 garbanzo beans, 1 cherry tomato, 3 strips of red onion, and 2 croutons.)

The plate is put in front of me. I take out my chopsticks that I eat with (both at home and on the road. I’ve been using them for many years. Double-digit years.) I’m maybe, 2 minutes into my salad, when an employee comes over and says, “Excuse me, but…you can’t eat with those here”, referring to the chopsticks.

I asked why, and they said, “‘Cause…we just don’t use them here, and one of the other customers made a comment and…well, we’d prefer you just use the silverware that’s on your table.”

I explained that I don’t really like using silverware, and that this is how I eat my food, and that I appreciated the suggestion, but I was going to continue my meal with the chopsticks.

He excused himself from my table and walked away. The people at the table next to me commented on how they thought it was cool to use the chopsticks, and they would do the same thing….if they knew how to use chopsticks.

Another guy comes over, and says he’s the manager. He askes me if there is a problem and I told him “no” as I continued to eat with chopsticks. He said using the chopsticks was “against their policy.” I started laughing. “Really? You have a policy against using chopsticks?” He stammered, saying that it just wasn’t something that people did there. I told him “It is now.”

I looked down to continue eating, and he just stood there. I looked up and said “I can finish my dinner, or I can leave. It’s up to you.”

It was sureal. It was as if he lost the ability to talk, like no customer had ever contradicted him before. Before he could say anything, I said “I understand”, stood up, took out a couple of bills to tip the server and said “Thank you. I appreciate the sample.”

As I put my coat on, the the guy with the 3 other people at the table next to me said “They’re making you leave because you’re using chopsticks?” and I said “No. They’re just saying I can’t use them. I’m choosing to leave on my own.”

I asked the manager as I left “I’m curious. If I had ordered the Asian salad, would it have have been served with chopsticks?” The people at the 2 closest tables started laughing and a few of them applauded. The manager looked as if someone had just broken up with him. And I was being friendly and kind throughout this whole ordeal.

No hard feelings. I wasn’t being loud, and I was playing up the situation for any attention. I had enough of that on stage earlier, and I was no longer in “character.” I actually thought it was funny that in this day and age, and with the economy the way it is, with less people dining out, someone would say something about the utensil I was using. What if I had been using a spoon instead of a fork?

And the ironic part: I went back to my room and had a couple of apples.

Apples. I’ll be.

Sky Sands