I wonder why I get so nervous when I think about writing about my pet peeves. I’ve been told it makes me look anal, so I have a tendency to hold it all back, but not anymore.
You see, I am a tea drinker, and I feel that we tea drinkers deserve the same service as coffee drinkers do, but it appears they think we are a bother. I have this thing about little metal teapots and those damn teabags. I really do. I guess I expect those to be put in front of me when I stop by some diner somewhere, or at a truck stop out in the middle of nowhere, but not in nice restaurants.
I spent my time working in hospitality, and when I was the General Manager, I made sure that if a guest ordered tea, it was served properly. I wanted our guests to have a wonderful dining experience.
Maybe the best way to go at this is just to tell you about a couple of my experiences with teabags and not so wonderful dining, so maybe you all will understand a little of this.
One was at McDonalds on the freeway between the high-end guest ranch I managed and Tucson. It was about my halfway mark, on my way back to the ranch from Tucson. I always stopped there because they had really hot water and clean restroom facilities if I needed to use them. It was usually late at night and in need of a hot cup of tea to get me the rest of the way home. One night, when I had my sister with me, we pulled up to the drive-up window and I asked for a hot tea, and she ordered coffee.
“We ain’t got that,”came a young woman's voice through the speaker.
I explained that I get it there at least once a week and sometimes more.
"Well," she said, "I have one of these little ‘dimaflochies’ that you can put in the water, will that work?”
I told her I wanted a big cup of hot water, and I would take two of those things she had.
My sister just looked at me, waiting to see what I would do. I was speechless, which doesn’t happen to me much, but I let it pass and just reminded myself to be sure and not hire anyone that didn’t know what a teabag was, as they might be much harder to train for tea service.
Then a couple of months later, a new, fancy chain restaurant was opening in Sierra Vista, Arizona. I love good food, so we were looking forward to trying out this one. We bought tickets and went to listen to Carlos Nakai, then headed for the restaurant.
We sat down, my sister, and a friend of hers, and myself. They each ordered wine, and I ordered hot tea. The waitress took the order and then came back and said we don’t have any of that. I told her she might ask the manager, as every place, even truck stops, have teabags. She was definitely put out with me and stomped off. She came back with a pot of hot water, and a large teabag that restaurants use to make enough iced tea to serve about 30 people. I explained I didn’t think I was supposed to have that bag.
“Just use it, then maybe you won’t be needin’ anymore,” she said, showing her disgust as she again stomped off.
Needless to say, I never went back there again.
One might think those two were isolated incidents, but they were more the norm than even I care to admit.
My real dining experiences weren't any better. We would have to drive about 100 miles into Tucson for that. By the time we would get seated I would be really ready for some tea, so while my dining partner would order a drink, I ordered my tea, anticipating some real tea, like how I served tea at the Guest Ranch. But, no, even a place where the bill came well over $100 for two of us, I still got the little wicker basket of teabags and a little metal pot of hot water.
Disappointed, I let it ruin my attitude and my meal. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand about how busy waitstaff can be and how serving anything out of the ordinary takes time and training, but wouldn’t you think it would be worth it to do something right?
When I left the ranch and moved to Missouri to care for my parents, I learned real fast not to expect anything better from the area we lived in. Now, I am in Boise. When I go to a teahouse, I get a wonderful ‘tea’ experience, but if I go to a nice restaurant, I get a damn wobbly teapot and a teabag.
The only thing that has changed through the years is I carry my own tea with me now. Recently I ordered in some fabulous tea wallets, which have made my life much easier. I am wondering why no one thought of those through all of these years. Or, maybe they were out there all along, and I was just too busy to notice. My sister always told me to carry my own teabags, but the trouble was I never bought teabags, so I never had any.
Okay, now that I have this one off my chest, I think I will go fix a pot of tea and just be grateful for good tea, family (including my canines) and friends. Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone, and may your holidays be filled with joy. Oh, and in case I have left you thinking what a snob I am, that isn't true. I just like good tea and don't want to lower my expectations.