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February 2011

The Least Romantic Valentine's Day I Ever Spent

Every time Valentine's Day rears its head I think back to that February 14th when I saw a man punch an old guy in the head over dispute about a bar booth at an Outback Steakhouse in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

I was "cocktailing" that night which was this throw away shift on weekend nights where you fetched bar drinks for people waiting the hour plus to get a table. Outback was pretty much the nicest game in town at the time, and so people would line up for sometimes many hours to eat there. Especially on days like Valentine's Day.

The booths around the bar were "first come, first served." There were seven of them and two small "two tops." On weekends and on holidays these tables were split between three servers.

With upwards of a three hour wait on Valentine's Day, you could see how competition for a bar booth might get fierce. But you certainly don't think you will someone punch the elderly in the face.

I came out of the kitchen where I'd dropped off dirty glasses to hear a hair-raising shrieking scream come from a woman in a fine pink suit. Her husband, a man certainly in his very late 60s or early 70s, hit the floor of the steakhouse with a tremendous noise. Gasps happened in unison. And the man who punched him took off running.

Word travels like light in restaurants, so the kitchen guys heard about what had happened almost instantly, and two of them darted out the heavy wooden double doors after this guy.

An ambulance was called and so were the police. The older gentleman was carted away on a stretcher. The man who punched him continued to run and evaded the kitchen staffers who trailed him. But he left his wife in the restaurant, and soon enough the police were questioning her. She gave up their address and phone number and I think eventually the guy was arrested.

And thus concludes the least romantic night I had on Valentine's Day.