The Uncarved Block

I shouldn't have to explain this to you, but...

One person's struggle to buy food at Newark Liberty International airport

I shouldn't have to explain this to you but...

“That isn't a falafel sandwich. It's some hummus and some pieces of pitta bread."

"Yeah, but you ordered the falafel sandwich."

"I did. That's not a falafel sandwich though."

"See, it says here. You ordered the falafel sandwich."

"Yeah. That doesn't have falafel. And it's not a sandwich."

She looks from the printout to the plate a few times in disbelief. A woman at the next table is trying to attract her attention to get the hummus she obviously ordered, but my server is not the type to be so easily swayed. This isn’t the first technical hitch in the delivery of my meal either. Before the absence of sandwich I was brought a bowl of soup but no spoon. After asking three times they handed over a teaspoon. Now there is a brief impasse after which the non-sandwich is taken away. Time passes. I’m sitting in a restaurant/bar in Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Which, you know. New Jersey. But at least I’m leaving.

The setup in this particular place is that there is an iPad at each table which you use to order and pay. I have a headache and they're playing loud Cuban music. The food is not at all cheap, but the whole iPad schtick means they know precisely who ordered what and presumably is so they can get away with not paying their staff- hence the prodigiously awful service.

It’s spring and there’s enough snow falling for me not to be able to really see the runway even though I’m right in front of a window looking directly at it. Planes nearby have snow gathering in drifts on their wings. Other planes seem to be landing and taking off, which is good because I don’t really want to stay in New Jersey.

"Hi. I'm still waiting for a falafel sandwich."

"I thought it was brought to you. "

"No, you brought hummus. And I told you it wasn't a falafel sandwich. Then you took it away."

"I thought it was brought to you. Lemme check."

"You can see that nothing was brought to me. I don’t have any plates. And my cutlery is unused."

"Lemme check, I thought it was brought to you."

She moves diagonally by one table, remaining in my field of view and starts ostentatiously wiping down a table with one hand while texting on her phone with the other. She wants to make it as clear as possible by her actions that she has OTHER THINGS TO DO and is most certainly not in any way checking for my sandwich. I redirect some wine that was ordered by the guy next to me.

Eventually my food comes without her “help". My knife is made of bendy plastic and when I use it to push a piece of lettuce onto my fork it snaps in half for airline safety reasons.

permalink Updated: 2020-08-07