We were scheduled to fly four legs: LAX-SFO-SEA-SFO-LAS. With weather delaying SFO arrivals, it became a very long day. It helped that we kept the same aircraft and cabin crew. Waiting for either to arrive would have added to the frustration.
When we boarded the hotel van, it was thirteen hours after we reported for duty. At least we were in Las Vegas where it would be easy to find something to eat.
The captain and I headed out for dinner. We decided to try the casino famous for their steak dinner special. After braving a few busy intersections on foot, we arrived at the restaurant a few minutes after leaving our hotel.
Now, to really appreciate this story, you have to picture the setting. We had just worked a thirteen hour day that involved four very full flights, delays and instrument approaches into bad weather. Although we’d eaten food, we hadn’t had a real sit-down meal all day. All we wanted was a warm plate of food and a cold drink.
As I approached the hostess stand, I saw the sign: “Tonight, we will be closing our kitchen at 10:30pm for deep cleaning.”
Two thoughts raced through my head: First, only I could visit a restaurant that boasts 24/7 hours on the one night it is closing. Second, if our meals will be the last ones prepared before the deep cleaning, does that imply the kitchen is currently as dirty as it ever gets?
I glanced at my phone: 9:32.
As best as I remember, the following is the conversation that took place next:
Hostess: “How many?”
She grabbed a pager and started to hand it to me.
Hostess: “Okay. It will be about a thirty to forty minute wait. Just keep in mind we close at 10:00 tonight.”
Me: “I thought it was 10:30.”
Hostess: “No. The kitchen closes at 10:00.”
Me: “But, it’s past 9:30.”
Me: “Well, you said it will be thirty to forty minutes. It’s already past 9:30.”
Hostess: “We’re still open. I said we close at 10… not 9:30.”
Me: “But, if I wait thirty minutes, it will be past 10.. Are we going to be okay if we get in before 10?”
Hostess: “No.. the kitchen HAS TO receive your order by 10.” She said it as if I was a school child working up against some important deadline.
Me: “So, we won’t make it.”
Hostess: “Look… do you guys want to wait or not?”
Me: “Well, do you really think it’s going to be thirty to forty minutes? Or, sooner?”
Hostess: “How should I know? I have no tables open and I have a line of people in front of you.” She didn’t bother to mention how many people were in front of us.
As I stood there with a dumbfounded puppy dog look on my face, the captain leaned around me and told her we would not be waiting. Since I was in complete agreement, we turned and walked out of the casino.
We replayed the odd encounter several times on our walk back to our hotel. I don’t think either one of us really believed that conversation just took place.
Even with the 20% discount, the hotel bar still charged what I consider too much money for a burger. But, it was delivered hot without any shenanigans from the friendly, competent bartender.
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