Friday, June 20, 2008

Lament for the Old Neighborhood

Years ago when the kids were little and my life was a blur of soccer games, tournaments, little league, ballet and the like we used to always stop by at our favorite neighborhood pizzeria/restaurant afterwards. Sweaty and still in uniform, my son would gobble down pizza like it was manna from heaven. We did this for years---years!

You think I'm exaggerating? We started on this whirlwind journey when my son was in first grade, barely coordinated enough to kick or hit a ball much less get it in a net or blast a home run and we ended with the travel-team circuit with an olympic class ranking at age 12. It only "ended" because of problems with ankle growth plates and even then it was a hiatus. As soon as we got the green light, add high school level baseball, football and karate to the mix. If you think I can remember 1987-1998 you've got to be kidding! Anyway, I digress...

Basically the pizzeria guys watched my kids grow up. By the time we moved my son had graduated high school and his sister was ready to go in. It was with a sad heart we moved to a town that did not have a pizza that rivaled the one we coveted. It was only 6 miles away but you'd think we had moved to Siberia. But, soon we found a substitute. Yea, it wasn't as good but the pizza guys were very friendly and made us feel at welcomed. Son goes off to college and now our lives have morphed into an every-other-weekend thing with daughter's dad.

I hadn't been alone since...well, since maybe birth? I mean, I went from home to a college dorm with lots of roomies to marriage. Along came the kids and that pretty much summed up my life until the-big-breakup. No where had I ever experienced being alone. This was brand new and I wasn't sure if I liked it. So, I started a comfort ritual. Every other Saturday when my daughter went away, I'd go and get take out Chinese. Ok, sounds pathetic and probably was but it was all I could think up at the time. The weekends my daughter was home we'd go to the pizza place where I soon discovered they had "the best" ever grilled chicken salad platter!

Fast forward six years. That's alot of Chinese take out and pizza/grilled chicken salad, I know but by now daughter is in college (still living at home though so no, I wasn't totally alone yet). She no longer goes away every other weekend but we keep up our pizza "date" routine whenever she wasn't with her boyfriend.

Then, it came time to move again. I had gotten so attached to the Chinese food lady and the pizza guys that I actually got hugs from them and I swear I saw a tear or two. I promised the pizza guys we'd "be back" to say hi and I told the Chinese food lady that she had the best Chinese in town. And, so we returned to the town we had left six years prior. Well, let me clarify that--same township but on the other side. In a township that is 56 sq miles the other side of town can be pretty far away! Still, once settled we made a trip to see the pizza guys from the "old days." And, sure enough they were still there--and they remembered the kids! "We watched them grow up," one of them said. And, when I would tell them how old they were now, we'd go through the "oh no, can't be!" routine.

But across town is across town and with the price of gas I rarely get there any more. Plus, the kids are now both gone and I am, for the very first time since birth alone. It's part time right now as the daughter returns about every 3 weeks or so, dog in tow and usually the boyfriend too lol Unfortunately, despite having lived on this side of town for nearly 4 years, I have yet to find a friendly we-know-your-name kinda place. No one says hello or recognizes me when I walk in places. I feel very disconnected and only a face in the crowd.

However, I thought that might change. I found a Subway on the way home a few weeks ago. I've decided that I'd try doing the Jared kind of diet a few times a week. Hey, it's cheap, it's calorie controlled, it's cheap (oh did I say that already?) and I hate cooking for one. The second time I stopped in I was the only customer (again) and made small talk with the lady behind the counter. It was the same lady as from day before yesterday. I ordered the same thing I did then. I'm a creature of habit, boring to others but comforting for me. I like what I like and why try something different? Anyway, this goes on for a couple of weeks equaling at least 7-8 visits now (I'm serious about this Jared Diet thing). Same lady, same order. Yet, each time she looks at me with blank eyes. There is no flicker of any kind of "oh yea, you're the turkey-on-whole-wheat-light-mayo lady." Nothing. Nada.

How can that be? I am usually the only customer walking in around 5pm. I guess most are eating with their families or even cooking (new concept) while I, the now alone, needs to cook for no one. So, it's not like I am in a huge line and she is rushed or stressed like they are at Coldstone Creamery. Sometimes the line nearly goes out the door for Coldstone's gooey, high calorie, hand rolled concoctions!

I miss the Chinese food lady, the pizza guys from the old neighborhood and the pizza guys from the now new-old neighborhood. There are no smiles for me at Subway's counter, not even recognition. Hey, I will make this a challenge. How long do you think it will take for the Subway Lady to know my usual order? Bets are now open...


Lisa said...

Wow, I can relate to your post on so many levels! From the "big break-up" to being constantly amazed at the lack of customer service...hell, let's be honest...the lack of any sign of customer ACKNOWLEDGEMENT! I have been on a very strict diet these past few months so my usual "quick fixes" at the ol' drive-thru have been few and far between. But the other night I had 10 minutes to spare between appointments so I reluctantly pulled into a Taco Bell. I ordered a plain Taco (no sour cream, no cheese...I am trying to be good after all ;)
And so I pull up to the window and out comes a hand. A HAND! An extended hand, sticking out of the window waiting to take my money. The girl attached to the hand practically had her back to me and was talking on her cell phone. She didn't even bother to tell me how much - the little "total clock" next to the window took care of that. No hello, no "would you like sauce with that," no acknowledgement whatsoever! I have to tell you, I was SO MAD. I just stared at the hand...and refused to put money in it!! She fnally turned and faced me, leaned down into and the window (STILL on the phone) and said "Ma'am??" and wiggled her fingers!! I was so stunned. I was speechless. I was clearly defeated so I just handed her and hand the dollar and tried to go about my day without completely loosing faith in the future of our society.

"Brielle Coronet" (aka Elisabeth) said...

Gotta pick your waterloo--taco or standing strong for customer service...tough call if you're hungry. The wiggling fingers gave me a chuckle though. I could picture it!

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17
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