ARTICLE

Jinx at brunch

The scene is set: three brunching blokes amble into another overly popular Carlton café one Sunday. There's me, then someone we'll call Jim (because he's a gym-bunny and pays attention to his carbs and proteins and all that), and there's the quiet enigmatic one called Sigmund. My sour morning complexion needing a lift, I order sweet pancakes with various fruity bits, including a serving of lavender ice-cream which sounds just perfect for this warm summer morning.

And it would have been a perfect, warm summer morning… if the ice-cream hadn't been plated next to the steaming hot pancakes and then left to stand a while. By the time it reached me all that was left was a teaspoon or two of rapidly dissipating cold stuff and a pool of custard-formerly-known-as. If one likes one's ice-cream, then one must find a way to either gulp or savour the remnants. Savouring was clearly out of the question. The remaining blobs were quickly transported to my mouth, where they could at least melt in their rightful place. But, alack! Alas! Disappointment could not be arrested, for the blobs were not just pre-softened, but entirely lavenderless. Was the lavender a mirage, or had plain vanilla become the new lavender? I shall never know.

My companions went for the savoury options. Both, boringly, decided to have omelettes with fillings. And they might even have chosen identical fillings off the list if Jim hadn't suddenly had one of those fitness-crazed nutritional moments and decided he wanted hash browns in his omelette. Yeuch. More surprising was the fact that this was on the list of available fillings — the reason Jim had come upon this distasteful idea in the first place. He ordered an omelette aux hash browns and smoked salmon. He was punished.

A large omelette on toast was delivered, avec salmon, but sans browns. It was brought to the waitress's attention and eventually two or three briquette-like things were delivered. Not briquette-coloured, but certainly the size of those diminutive chunklets one might use to fuel a barbeque. We supposed they were intended as an appropriate size for the inside of the omelette. Regardless of their physical form, they tasted awful.

Sigmund, meanwhile, happily munched through his satisfyingly unambitious omelette without trouble. He even got the extra filling he'd ordered (the basic omelette price only included two fillings). Some people are just blessed.

After drinking our digestif coffees, we went to pay. The bill listed a side order of hash browns, despite Jim having ordered them in conjunction with the omelette (two fillings included, remember). It was an unusual request, I guess, so misunderstandings can arise. We explained, and for a moment it looked like all would be happily resolved, and we could depart. But then the waitress hand-balled the matter over to the Dark Side. "Well, you can't seriously have wanted that as a filling for that!" he said. He clearly didn't believe us. Jim must have planned the whole thing to defraud the Dark Side of a $3.50 side order.

I tried invoking the mantra of customer prerogative, unsuccessfully. I tried my light-sabre of logic ('the menu lists the permitted fillings, and hash browns is on the list'), but it failed to slay the Dark Side. 'If we put all the permitted combinations on the menu it would be 45 pages long', he snapped hyperbolically. Dark Side 2: Customers 0. A grumble and a snap and a huff or two later, the bill was corrected. Dark Side 0: Lost Customers 3-and-growing.

-DM

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