Coastal Georgia. It was dark and rainy when we pulled into the tourist-trap restaurant parking lot with 4,236 other cars. We were running on fumes, we were low on calories. We’d been on a highway for six hours, our stomachs were empty.
All evening we’d been hunting a place to eat, but everywhere was slammed with tourists. Each local restaurant had one-, two-, or three-hour wait times. This particular seafood joint only had a 25-minute wait.
I gave the hostess my name. The perky high-school-age girl added us to the list and told us we would have to wait outside. But there was a big problem with this.
“It’s raining,” I said.
Although the word “raining” would be putting it mildly. It was Hurricane Hugo out there. Furthermore, this restaurant had no covered porch or outdoor shelter. Only a dirt parking lot.
“Why can’t we wait inside?” I asked.
She shook her head. “We don’t allow people to wait inside, sir. Ain’t enough room for the servers. If you wanna give me your cell phone number, I’ll call you when your table’s ready.”
I pointed to the empty bar at the rear of the restaurant. “Can’t we just sit at the bar and wait?”
A second head shake. “Bar’s closed. You’re not allowed to sit there.”
“You won’t even know we’re there.”
I turned to look at the Old Testament rainshower outside the window. A sudden clap of thunder exploded, shaking the windows and dimming the lights.
“You’re actually going to turn us out into the driving rain?”
The hostess reached behind her lectern and handed me a plastic-covered menu. “Maybe you can use this as an umbrella?”
She was all heart.
So my wife and I raced back to our car, through the muddy parking lot, clomping through hip-deep puddles. After waiting 25 minutes in our front seat I had received no phone calls.
I charged inside to…