Monday, March 23, 2009

A Bad Tempered Blog

I wouldn't normally do this. But I am. Very.Very. Cross.

Yesterday we took mil out for lunch for Mother's Day. Well. We tried to. She wanted to go here.

It's a lovely pub right by the race course and offers you lovely views.

If you're lucky enough to get a seat there on Derby Day, you can even get to see this.

Although the rest of the year it looks more or less like this.

Given that mil is now pretty infirm, she can't get up here to enjoy the views unless we take her. And going to the aforementioned pub which has wide windows allowing you fabulous views of the downs, is a great way of her giving her a different perspective from her flat where she's been more or less imprisoned all winter.
As it was Mother's Day and I knew it was going to be busy, I rang in the week to book a table. We don't do bookings, I was informed. Eek, I thought, that's a pain. However, being assured that as long as we arrived by 12pm we should get a table, I thought it was worth a shot.
As we were going out with bil and sil, we suggested to them (given that they are unhampered by small people), that they aim to get there for 11.45 and grab us a table, so if we were delayed either by the children or mil it wouldn't be a problem.
Well, it seemed like a good plan...
Spouse decided as it was a nice day he'd take the Caterham, so I went to pick up mil with three offspring. Mil of course wasn't quite ready, apart from the fact anything physical takes forever because of her shake, she also has no concept of time anymore, so will happily stand there and yack the whole morning without realising that actually, we are in a huge hurry.
Just as I was about to leave the phone rang and bil was asking in a very restrained manner if we were on our way. Yes, I said. Is there a problem?

There was, it transpired, indeed a problem. The woman sorting tables out refused to find them one until The WHOLE party was there. Even when Spouse arrived with a child five minutes later, and bil was able to say that I was also on my way.
By the time we arrived, at 12.10 it was clear there was going to be a big problem. The narrow road leading to the pub was blocked with parked cars, and I had to pull into a verge to allow some cars to pass me. There was by now a huge traffic jam as people were clearly driving into the pub car park and then turning around as there was no room. This kind of thing always brings me out in a sweat because a) I hate driving at the best of times b) we have a very big car which doesn't squeeze into small gaps very well and c) I have all the spatial awareness of a gnat so am highly likely to hit something in moments of high stress.
I couldn't stay where we were, because it was too far for mil to walk even with her zimmer (and dangerous - three kids+one aged zimmer walking lady+lots of cross drivers = disaster), so I sent no 1 up to find Spouse to let the helpful lady at the door know we were there, if not in the actual car park. This mattered not one jot to helpful lady. Even when we eventually found our way to the car park, and Spouse manouevred the car (I totally wimped out at that point) into a horribly tight gap and we all made our way to the door.
So. Now we are all here, said Sil. Good. You can find us a table now, right?

Sorry, we're full, was the self satisfied response,.

Sil who is the most mild mannered of people was furious, at the intransigence, the stupidity, the lack of consideration.

I'm not mild mannered and I was furious for all those things, but also because of the way the wretched woman was being extremely unhelpful and masquerading all the time as someone who was apparently offering a service.
We sat down outside wondering whether or not we could stick the cold - it was sunny but the air gets a bit breezy up there - and then decided it was ridiculous. I went back and pointed out that mil is 84 and disabled, and did they think it was reasonable that she sat outside? To which I had an unhelpful shrugging kind of response. By now of course it was too sodding late to go anywhere else, thanks to Ms Helpful. Luckily, bil and sil had the bright idea of getting a ready made lunch from Sainsbury's (thank you Mr JS for your ready made roast potatoes, Bessie Wotsit's yorkshire puds and roast chicken).
I was so cross, I told everyone in the queue waiting for non existent tables, how crap Ms Helpful and head honcho Smarmy Waiter had been, and left by telling her we wouldn't be darkening their doors again. No 1 was most amused that even though I had been ahem, rather forceful in telling Ms Helpful how unhelpful she'd been, Ms H smiled at me sweetly and said thank you. No 1 also has just learnt what a jobsworth is...
We probably, truth be told, had a much nicer time at home, given that with that number of people (they must have turned away hundreds more) we were never going to get brilliant service.
What makes me mad as hell is the unreasonableness of it, and the fact that sil explained patiently that while we had arrived it would take mil at least ten minutes to get out of the car and make it to the entrance, because she's disabled. It's also a classic example of how badly the elderly and infirm get treated in this country. By dint of taking reservations, they could quite easily have accommodated us later in the lunchtime session. As it was I saw dozens of cars with bewildered looking old ladies in them being turned away, which strikes me as very bad business sense. How I longed for Gordon Ramsay to pitch up and shout at them all.

But in the absence of Gordon, I'm being shouty instead. Because I think the concept of service here was completely abused, and the idea that you might actually want to treat potential customers with some respect is something they clearly have a problem with.
And to think I suggested taking her there, because mil liked the place!

Guess who, nice views and all, won't be going there again...


Lisa Rullsenberg said...

At best you could commend them on all remaining calm (oblivious?!) in the face of your (quite logical) fury.

But that's a pretty shoddy single thing to be able to commend in that disasterous event.

Lesson learnt? (I doubt they will)

Jane Henry said...

That would have been good. Sadly am not at all good at staying calm in these situations so I was too furious to think of anything witty to say. Still, I can write them a rude letter while I'm about it....

Anonymous said...

Ring and complain seriously! That's outrageous!
Dad told me about this earlier, can't believe it!!
Ruth x

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Trust me when I say that I am well noted for my lack of calm in such situations...! Thankfully it was only after we had voluntarily left a council building after I had got very irate that we discovered I was actually carrying a claw hammer with me... (long story!)

Given how cross I was it was a good job no one stopped me and searched my bag...

Jane Henry said...

Hiya Ruth, Don't you worry. They are going to get a very very rude letter!! Don't think I've ever seen your dad so cross!

Lisa OMG a claw hammer!! That beats me being accused of verbal abuse when I got into dispute with a ballet teacher at the Fame School the children used to attend. I seriously got a letter telling me I might be barred from the premises! I was also accused of throwing a pen at the girl behind the desk (I put it down in a bad tempered manner and it accidentally pinged off the table). Hmm. Perhaps we should do a Thelma and Louise and wreak vengeance on all nobheads who deserve it??

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