Sunday, April 07, 2013


Joe and I pulled off the road, after driving for several hours, to grab some lunch. I use the GPS to find a mall near the road because we can be assured of finding somewhere accessible to eat. I miss the days of pulling over at a local diner - we like the flavour of the atmosphere as well as the food in small local places - but the chances of being able to get in are fairly small, and finding one we can is time consuming. The mall was huge and we went in Entrance 6!

First we found the washroom, we are both over 60, this is always the first thing we do at any place we stop. Then we toured the food court. For some reason we both found the noise completely overwhelming so we headed to find a restaurant restaurant. Just outside the door we entered was a California Pizza Kitchen. Neither of us wanted pizza but we stopped to check the menu and found it wonderfully varied with a lot of vegetarian options. in we went.

The host greeted us with a bright smile. When informed the size of our party she smiled and asked us to follow her. We rounded a corner and she led us to a table. After handing us our menu she told us who our server would be and left us to consider what we wanted.

This is a highly typical scene, certainly no reason for a blog post. But there's something I haven't told you.

Joe and I travel a lot, as you all know. We eat in a lot of restaurants. The reason we never go out for dinner in Toronto is because when at home we cook - we have no desire for restaurant food at all. We've been embarrassed when people come to the city to visit us and ask us for recommendations for good restaurants and we don't really know any - it's not something we do at home.

Anyways ... we eat at a lot of restaurants.

Here's what usually happens.

We are guided to a table, the host asks which chair we'd like to have removed and then, usually with a lot of fanfare, a chair is moved. Sometimes there's a bit of drama as the host looks for a place to put the chair. Often it seems like a LOT of bother. I've gotten used to this. In fact I couldn't imagine it different in any way.

Until yesterday at California Pizza Kitchen.

We rounded the corner and a table was set for four, but there were only three chairs. The space that was most accessible to the aisle we'd gone through wasn't there. I pulled into place without any muss, any fuss or any drama. It was astonishingly easy. Joe noticed this to because he said, before I could say anything, 'Well, wasn't that easy?'

And it was.

It was welcoming too.

I don't know if this was accident or design. Joe and I fell into conversation over lunch and I simply forgot to ask the waiter if this was done purposely or not. A few miles from the restaurant I realized that I should have thanked them, should have made note of it.

I wanted to tell them that it was nice to be expected.

It was nice not to be a surprise to be accommodated.

It was nice to feel welcome and wanted.

Finally, a place at the table.


Mike Allen said...

This is a great example of what I've come to recognize as "making space." Internally, it feels great to get space, as you've so well described, but it depends upon external conditions. If space is made externally, it feels good internally. ***Your blog post is certainly worth the time, don't ever doubt that. And about a bajillion (sp?)words.***

Mary said...

I've found that even in the few years I've been a wheelchair user, restaurants are getting better at accommodation without fuss.

As one who can walk a few steps, I've been particularly pleased about the growing trend for greeters asking me "do you prefer to sit in your own chair?"

It's such a simple question but it opens up so much - it acknowledges that I might have preferences, that I am not "stuck in the chair", and it creates a space where if I *do* think I'd rather switch to a restaurant chair I *don't* have to worry about the Faker Glare.

Andrea S. said...

Will you be coming through Washington DC by any chance? (As this is where I live!)