For all my years of eavesdropping in restaurants, turnaround was bound to happen eventually. I met my friend for dinner last night—we went to Old Ebbitt because they have an appetizer of homemade potato chips topped by generous amounts of bleu cheese. Well, they used to have that appetizer, but now they don’t and I was not a happy camper.
That’s not the point of my tale, but certainly worth a mention. At any rate, we ended up at one of those tables that’s about 4” from the next table over on either side; in that set-up eavesdropping is amateur hour, not professional, but hey, I’ll show some respect.
I did start by bonding with the couple on one side of the table; I told them I was sliding in the back there and warned them that it was likely that I would either hit one of them and/or spill something on one or both of their laps. I assured them that whatever I was about to do was completely unintentional, and I would take care of the dry cleaning. They graciously accepted their fate, and as it turns out I only knocked over a couple of menus and took a corner of the tablecloth with me when I sat down, but I recovered before anything tumbled off the table. I think my track record is improving.
We proceeded to bond with the gentlemen sitting on the other side of us, and then we all went back to our own business, as if we weren’t sitting in each other’s laps. My friend commented that I must be excited that next Thursday is my last day, and then goodbye law firm world. If you hadn’t guessed she happens to be a legal administrator as well. We travel in packs for our own protection.
A minute or two later the nice man who dodged a bullet when I sat down asked if he heard correctly that I quit my job. I confirmed. He raised his glass and made a very sincere toast congratulating me. I commented that I was pretty excited about moving into something new. I think my friend was concerned that they didn’t fully appreciate what a big move I was making, so she leaned over and and said knowingly, “we manage law firms.” Just as a statement in and of itself—as in, she’s not just leaving a job, she’s making a prison break and we hope she makes it out alive and gives the rest of us some hope. I helpfully added “we try to manage law firms.”
I’m pretty sure these folks were tourists from Oklahoma or something and had no idea what she meant, because they nodded very seriously and said “oh.” A little banter about whether they enjoyed their entrees as we were getting ready to order, and then back to either side of our invisible wall. But things would pop up every few minutes and we seamlessly transitioned from 2 of us having dinner to 4 of us having dinner back to 2 of us having dinner. It was kind of sweet.
That couple left and some boring lady sat down and pretended she was in a bubble. Fine, whatever. The gentlemen on the other side were still there, and when my friend went to the restroom I was able to properly focus on their conversation. One of the guys was saying he thought he was getting a promotion, and the other guy said he was sick of the BS and was getting out of the game entirely. Time for something new altogether.
I really wanted to congratulate him the way the other folks congratulated me, but they wouldn’t shut up and let me get a word in edgewise. Annoying. I finally gave up, and then they decided they should go get drinks and celebrate their good fortune.
It was a fun night, and I loved spending time with my friend, and our new acquaintances, but the bottom line is that Old Ebbitt doesn’t have homemade chips with crumbled bleu cheese anymore. And there’s nothing fun about that. I know I said that wasn’t my point, but upon further consideration, it’s pretty important.