When I was a teenager I was either a jokester or surly and holier than thou, pointing out the foibles of the adults around me.
I was in the latter mood on a family trip to Hawaii when we sat down at the restaurant. The waitress brought the menus and introduced herself as Carol. When she came back with waters and took our orders I looked at her name tag and noticed it read Susan.
“I thought you said your name was Carol?” I said.
“No it’s Susan,“ she responded.
When she left, I turned to my family and kept talking about the switcheroo. “Carol and Susan sound nothing alike,” I explained. There’s no way I could be mistaken.
Nobody else recalled what her name was and wondered why I was making such a big deal about it. My dad gave me one of those looks as if to warn me this was not going to be another of my incidents to ruin a family outing. But I just wouldn’t drop it.
“Something fishy is going on and I’m going to get to the bottom of it,” I said. She can’t pull the wool over my eyes.“
I got up to go to the bathroom and wash my hands, but what I really wanted was a closer peek at that sneaky Carol/Susan. She was happily chatting with her colleagues behind the counter and looking at order slips and plates as if nothing untoward was going on.
“What could be the purpose of this chicanery?“ I asked myself alone in the washroom. I couldn’t think of any advantage besides fooling the tourists. Even though it wasn’t my money, it was the principle of the thing. You don’t mess with people who come a long way and spend a lot of cash, a good part of it going to your salary. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you in a restaurant.
I came back to the table to see that Carol/Susan was setting down our plates. When she came to me I made sure to look at her name tag. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here I had caught her red-handed.
“Powtip!?” I exclaimed.
The waitress started cracking up.
“There’s no way your name was Powtip before! Just what are you trying to pull here?” It was the beginning of a tirade that aimed to be better than that of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith goes to Washington.
But I stopped when I looked around and all of my family was laughing too. I was stunned and didn’t know why they were guffawing when we were the object of ridicule. It was then I learned the joke was on me.
“We asked the waitress to change her name tag,” my Mom chimed in.
“What, do you mean from the moment we entered the restaurant?“ I said. “But that doesn’t make sense…”
“No,” Mom said. “From the moment you made such a big deal of it. You misheard her name at the start, or you just weren’t paying attention, and then you wouldn’t shut up about it. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard!“
Upon leaving, my father set down double the usual tip for Powtip.