My colleague and friend Charles, or "Chaz" as I like to call him sometimes, and I were in London on business. It was a warm, sunny afternoon in May. In between appointments, we ducked into a small restaurant for a snack. There was a little placard on our table. "Hey look," I said, "they have strawberries and ice cream."
"That sounds good," Chaz said. "I thought they ate strawberries and cream here, though, not ice cream."
"Yeah, me too. It sounds good though."
The placard had a picture with vanilla ice cream. "I wonder if it just comes with vanilla, or if you can get different flavors."
"I don't know, let's ask the waitress. Here she comes."
Our waitress turned out to be a very pretty dark-haired girl named Gabriela. She had an accent, so we asked her where she was from. She told us she was from Spain and was waitressing while she studied English. I guess she hadn't been in England long, because we had a little trouble communicating.
I tried asking her about the strawberries and ice cream. "Do the strawberries and ice cream come only with vanilla ice cream, or are there other flavors?"
"Yes... the strawberries and ice cream... what flavor ice cream do you have?"
"Strawberries and ice cream?"
I gave up. "Um, we'll have two dishes of strawberries and ice cream."
"Would you like something to drink?" She had that part down pretty well.
Now it was Chaz's turn. He's kind of a beer geek, so whenever he travels he wants to sample some local beers, not just national brands. He asked Gabriela what they had.
"Do you have any local beers?"
[Long pause] "Loco beer?"
"No, local beers."
She just looked at him blankly. We could see the wheels turning. Loco beer? ¿Cerveza loca? ¿Qué es esto? "Beer?"
"Yes, I'll have a beer please."
"I'll just have a glass of water," I said.
Gabriela went off to fill our order. "That was pretty bad," I said.
"Yeah, she can't really speak English well enough to do the job," Chaz said.
"We should actually be pretty pissed off right now."
"Are you mad?"
"No. Are you?"
"Not at all. But I would be if she was a guy. I'd be pretty damn mad at that kind of service."
"Me too," I said. "She's awfully cute though."
Gabriela brought our order. The ice cream was vanilla. The beer was a Carling. When we finished, we left Gabriela a big tip.