This week: Finding Inspiration in Odd PlacesEdited by: Sara♥Jean
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Finding Inspiration in Odd Places
I had a really bad dinner experience lately, and it got me thinking - there are character inspirations all around us.
Recently, I had probably one of the worst restaurant experiences of my life.
Ok, I am being dramatic.
It was not the worst, but it was pretty high up there as far as bad experiences go. The food was decent, but atmosphere can ruin everything, even when the food is pretty good. And we had the privilege of watching while our server would promise us he would bring us something, and then continue to serve all of the tables around us (and actually bring them things), while our promised items would never arrive.
There was a time when he mentioned he would bring us refills, and then every one of our drinks remained empty for more than 20 minutes - my ice had melted to the point that I had water, and I had to offer that to my son when he started coughing because of his food - this was while we watched him walk around and refill everyone else's drinks about twice before he noticed ours - again. Remember, our drinks were the reason he started refills in the first place, then took care of everyone else's instead. My son sat there for 20 minutes without eating because the ketchup that was promised for his burgers and fries at the same time as the refills didn't arrive - until he noticed that he never gave us refills. And then he blamed the kitchen staff for never bringing the ketchup. The bread that was supposed to arrive when we first got to the table never arrived - it was offered to us as we left when he realized he'd never served it to us - that was apparently the kitchen staff's fault, as well. (It wasn't - he served every other table their bread - he was just unwilling to take the blame for his own mistakes.) And I might add, he didn't offer the bread until after he saw the total of the ticket, and I imagine feared his tip was at risk.
And to add the cherry to the top of the sundae, about halfway through dinner he mentioned that his father was a teacher and sat around all day on his butt, and so his job was so much better because he was on his feet and running around all the time to serve his customers. (My husband is a teacher - and he does not sit around all day. I was a teacher, too. And I also did not spend my time on my backside - I rarely had time to spend in my chair.) We didn't let him know about this little error. We let it slide. But it didn't earn any brownie points.
Every time we asked for something, it took a minimum of 15-20 minutes to arrive, while he would serve other tables two or three times in the meantime. (No, they were not things that would take a long time to deliver. Lemons for tea - which he brought up, I might add, not us - they went the way of the bread and never arrived and we just never reminded him after a while because we figured there was no point. ketchup, refills, ... the ticket so we can pay and leave...) So, eventually, we simply stopped asking. We finished our meal, asked for our ticket because that was the only way to pay, and then left. It eventually dawned on him that we were unhappy - not because we were ever rude, because we were not, and not because we didn't leave a tip - I was a waitress once, I always leave a tip. But, it did somehow dawn on him that he messed up at some point. Probably because we stopped smiling eventually - faces tell tales.
For us, it was just really insulting to watch everyone else have filled drinks, needs met in a timely manner, and actually be paid attention to - when they were told something was coming, it actually arrived right away. Until our ticket was brought to us, and then suddenly we were incredibly important people, and the waiter did a lot of backpedaling. We were swooned over, at that point, but by then, it was a little late. We still left 15%, but we are typically a family that leaves a much larger tip, mainly because we don't eat out very often, and believe that good service deserves good tips. I would have more pity for the man, but the tables weren't packed, the other tables weren't overly demanding or rude - he would simply promise us things and then dismiss them to go pay attention to other people instead. I can forgive once or twice, but repeatedly isn't ok.
It dawned on me just today, though - this sort of person is an excellent character for a book or story. Endless possibilities. It could be an evil character (maybe the waiter gig is just a front to cover for his real evil business or hobby), it could be a character that is prejudiced (we were the only mixed racial family in the restaurant - it could be a character that is bothered by something like that), it could be a character that is starting to lose their short term memory (then it would be every table, but inspiration can come from anywhere), it could be a character who never sees his own wrongdoing and always blames everyone else and so always is the catalyst for conflict everywhere they go (gotta love those ones), and it could even be a comical character (too soon right now, but eventually it could be taken in a comical direction once I am less grumbly about the experience).
So. look around at your recent experiences. Can you find one real person that could actually be the inspiration for four different character types? Could you be the inspiration for four different character types? Neat, right?
So, like I said. I exaggerated. Not the worst, but I wasn't happy. I am happy, however, that it did give me something interesting to tell you about.
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