Friday, December 09, 2005

Half-Assed Rant

I'm a person who needs constants. I like new ideas and new experiences, but I like some things to stay the same. Like neighborhood restaurants.

One of my favorite lunch spots over the past eighteen years has been this great littly dive-y place called The Bottom Line, so named due to its location across the street from most of the financial firms in the area. High-backed wooden bench booths, pitiful lighting, smoke-thick air, so-so food, friendly, chatty waitresses--it was the perfect place to escape for an hour of lunchtime writing.

Until recently.

A few months ago, The Bottom Line closed for a few weeks for "remodeling". I figured they'd sand some of the grease off the wall, install a few new lights, and get rid of a truly unsightly stain that had been on the ceiling for about fifteen years. Imagine my surprise when they reopened with a whole new look: plasma televisions everywhere, all new cherry tables and chairs, recessed lighting, new menu and a whole new staff.

Okay, I told myself. Life is full of changes. Give it a chance.

I told myself that three times, but with each visit, my heart sank a little lower. The new decor is wide open, no wooden booth cubicle to escape into. Plus, the plasma televisions hanging on the walls mean people are looking in your direction throughout the meal. I can't write while being watched. Oh, and speaking of the meal, the menu no longer includes my favorites: chili, tuna melts, or "traditional" club sandwiches. I can, however, get a BLT with applewood-smoked bacon and garlic mayonnaise. If I wanted to.

The biggest change, and the saddest to me, is the new staff. The old waitstaff was made up mostly women of varying ages. There was Elizabeth, who loved mysteries as much as I do, and Carolyn, who sang while she worked and made every song sound like a country song, and young Emily, who had far too many razor marks on her arms but smiled and talked to me on her good days. I liked them.

Now, though the staff is still female, the ages are all the same--low twenties. There is apparently a new rule that the top of one's pants or skirt and the hem of one's shirts must have a gap of at least six inches. Perhaps, also, there's a rule mandating that the skirts may not be longer than eight inches. We're one step away from Hooter's here.

I might be okay with the clothing if any of the staff had any sort of personality for me to focus on. But no, mostly they've been pretty overwhelmed by the stress of keeping up with orders, while catching one another up on the events of their lives.

So that leaves me with the skimpy wear. I have no objection to the attire itself. It's stylish, and if I had the same body as some of these women, I'd wear hip hugging/hip riding skirts every day. But I don't and so I don't, and neither should some of these women, but okay.

For me, the big problem comes in when my waitress leans across my table to replace my salt and pepper shakers and presents me with her butt crack. I like to be friendly with waitresses, but not to that level.

Also, I have a little issue with the tucking of the order pad in the back of the pants. I don't mind it at other restaurants when the back of the pants ride the small of the wait person's back, and the crisp white (or black) shirt protects it from actual touching of skin, but with these new waitresses the order pads are going into Forbidden Territory before being taken to the food prep area and, later, to my table.

It's not surprising that, on my third and final visit this week, the lunchtime crowd was all male. Normally that would perk me right up, but not anymore. Their eyes were all on Butt-Crack Girl.

I want my old dive back. I only have one left and it's always been a distant second to The Bottom Line. Maybe I'll try it out today.

But the first sign of a butt crack, and I'm outta there.