Who Was That Guy?

Pick a restaurant , any restaurant.


Be it Chilis, Bennigans, TGI Fridays, BJ’s Brewhouse, 54th Street Grill, Longhorn Steakhouse, Logan’s Roadhouse, Saltgrass Steakhouse, Applebees, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Crabby Joes, Cracker Barrel, Dave & Busters, Macaroni’s, Texas Land & Cattle, Red Robin, The Lion & The Rose, Perkins, Village Inn, or even IHOP, Scott had worked at any and every one of those moderately priced eateries in his fifteen year career in the food service industry.


He originally started as a busboy at one of them when he was still in high school. It was steady part time work which was just perfect for a kid trying to put gas in the car and cash in his pocket while he waded through school and pondered what to do after graduation. Various doors had been opened to play some football in college. He had the build of a lineman and the overblown sense of self worth that a lot of his buddies on the high school team possessed. As such, he never skipped on an opportunity to use his size and ego to dispense frequent barrages of verbal putdowns and the occasional swirly or wedgey to the rest of the student body who didn’t fit into his paradigm of those who deserved to live life without being messed with or generally bullied.


Such is life.


Scott was able to garner a scholarship at a small school upstate. That was even after coasting by in his senior year in high school. He never perceived that phoning it in during his last year of high school would be as detrimental as it was.


After attending two semesters at college while playing football, the rigid habits he had failed to develop in the years before proved to be too much and he had to leave. The scholarship was pulled and he had no other way to finance his presence there.


So Scott returned home and went back to work in the food service industry where he initially had cut his teeth. His original idea was to work his butt off in order to put some money back so that he could return to school in pursuit of a degree. He never really had any favorite subjects back in his school days, so he was generally at a loss on what type of degree to earn.


He still continued to work though, and as time went by he found that he was getting pretty good at the niche he had built for himself. He had held several different roles at all of those restaurants from bussing tables, to washing dishes, to prepping food, to waiting tables, to tending the bar. None of his employers ever fired him, and they were all pretty happy with his performance. The reason for his moves was ultimately based on pursuing a more prestigious or better paying roll when it wasn’t available at the current place.


By the time he hit age 30, Scott’s goals had changed. In recent years, he had met a girl, fallen in love, and gotten married. He was now in the process of starting a family. He still had his size, but his hair was starting to fall out. The way he wore is spiked up helped to hide it a little, but the lack of follicle activity on his head was becoming more and more evident.


By now, he had worked his way up the ladder into a position of management. He was one of four managers at the latest store to open in town. Since the restaurant had only been open for a few months, there was still a steady flow of patrons coming through the door.


This was fine with Scott. The productivity of his particular store helped to define the bonuses that he and the other managers earned four times a year. Obviously the means to generate a profit weren’t the only thing that helped Scott’s paycheck though. A high degree of service orientation was needed to keep hungry butts in the seats. If something was wrong with the service or the food, Scott was the one charged with taking care of it.


Just the other day, while working the lunch hour, Scott had to do just that. While flawlessly executing his duties to the best of his ability, one of the young servers under Scott’s supervision who was not only good at her job, but also looked good in the requisite black t-shirt and hip hugging jeans informed him that one of her customers didn’t particularly enjoy the enchilada they had ordered. Their claim was that the taste was inspired somewhere between Mexico and Italy. They were willing to take it home in a doggy bag for someone else in the family to eat, and hadn’t really asked for a refund or any type of restitution.

With this bit of news, Scott swept himself into action to proactively resolve the matter. First, he removed the enchilada from the customer’s bill. Second, he wrote up a gift certificate for the exact price of the enchilada to present to the customer for use on a visit in what would hopefully be the very near future. Most importantly, Scott’s third step was to visit the customer and express the deepest of his regrets for the customers unsatisfactory experience in his restaurant. He apologized profusely for what had happened and drove home the fact that he would work with those in the kitchen to determine how the palatability of the enchilada could be improved upon. At the same time, he offered the customer something else off of the menu after advising them that he had already corrected their standing ticket.


Overall, the customers struck Scott as being grateful and appreciative of his actions. There was one particular thing about this couple that struck Scott as unique though. Scott had undertaken this process many a time before at many restaurants. In all of those times, Scott didn’t know the customer from the any other customer. The gentleman look familiar though.


Extremely familiar.


Scott knew that guy, but he couldn’t remember his name or where or even when he knew him. It drove Scott crazy for the rest of the day trying to place a name and time on the face of the person who said the enchilada tasted like it was made in Italy.


Who was that guy?


It wasn’t until later on in the day that Scott went home, turned his computer on, and logged onto Facebook that he had a hint on the identity of the enchilada guy that had tormented his psyche all day.


Scott had received a message through Facebook from someone who wasn’t on his friends list:


Hi Scott.


I don’t know if you remember me or not, but we went to school together back in the day. I don’t know if you recognized me today, but I was the one you helped when I thought my enchilada tasted strange. I wanted to thank you for all of the steps you took today to make it right. I certainly wasn’t expecting you to even do half of what you did, and I just wanted to let you know I feel you went above and beyond to make sure I come back.


I really appreciate it.




That’s why that guy looked so familiar. Scott had gone to school with Martin.


Scott immediately started a mental checklist of his years in high school to determine exactly how he knew Martin. Was he on the team? Did they have a class or two together? Scott couldn’t remember at all. He remembered the name and he remembered the face.


After rifling through several storage bins in the garage, Scott found a yearbook from his last year in school and looked up a picture of Martin.


Martin was freshman when Scott was a senior. Martin didn’t play sports, and was more involved in various academic clubs. Upon finding that out, it all came back to Scott on who Martin was.


Back in the day, Scott notoriously targeted freshman when it came to hazing others. Some twelve or thirteen years ago, Scott was shoving Martin’s head in a toilet with one hand and pulling his tighty-whiteys well up into his butt with the other. Today, Scott gave Martin two enchiladas not because the entrée may or may not have tasted strange, but most likely because he had been a jerk so long ago.

All Scott could do was sit there with his head in his hands.

Randy Tharp

TharpSter is a husband to one woman, a father to two kids, a master to two dogs, an occasional cubical occupant, and unable to make up his mind on an adequate theme for this website.

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