The International Writers Magazine: Giving Orders
The Dumb Waiter
Have you ever felt embarrassed to order a pizza in Amsterdam?
“Yes, yes, mum, I’m going to Amsterdam,” I explained to my worried mother after she mistakenly received a phone call from my university. “Yes, it’s a beautiful city.” But even she knew why people really went to Amsterdam.
Small-scale architectural wonders mingled with historical landmarks as we searched for a place to satisfy the munchies. Minutes had somehow stretched to hours, and after a few eternities our group of six university students finally found a cosy-looking Italian pizzeria. “Pizza/pasta 5€” read the sign. This was our call.
Each square of the chequered table-cloths breathed Italian, and the greyscale photographs on the turquoise walls made me feel somewhere in between the leaning Pisa tower and the hot, sunny beaches of Sicily. A smiling waiter Stefano, as he kindly introduced himself, welcomed us at the door and showed us to our table. As he left, we sat down, relieved at the thought of finally seeing food on our plates. Chatting away, we made our selection and waited for Stefano to take our orders.
When our waiter re-entered the room, the air about him had changed. Was he also high? He came over to our table, annoyed in that authentic Italian way. Holding up a writing pad and a pen, he asked for our orders. The vegetarians Jamie and Andy went first.
“All right, mate,” Jamie spoke on behalf of him and Andy. "Can we get two Margheri...?”
“Are you a woman?” Stefano interrupted.
“What??” Jamie exclaimed after what seemed like five minutes.
“I say, are you a woman?” Stefano repeated, stressing each syllable.
“Well...no!” replied Jamie.
“So why you order first?” Stefano pointed his pen at Jamie.
“Well, because...” Jamie started, but our overly enthusiastic waiter didn’t let him finish.
“Basta! ” shouted Stefano. "So, two Margaritas and drink?”
“I’m alright, mate, cheers,” Jamie replied in a friendly tone.
“No drink, no food!” the waiter was pointing his pen almost as a sword.
“All right then, two cokes, please,” Jamie said sarcastically.
“Ahh, idiota, idiota,” the waiter murmured. And then – he simply left.
We all looked at each other and a stoned silence lasted for, what seemed, another hungry eternity. “What a prick,” Jamie concluded, just as another waiter came to our table.
“May I take your order, guys?” he seemed much friendlier than his colleague.
We explained we had just ordered from Stefano, at which the waiter shrugged his shoulders. “Stefano? No one works here with that name.”
There was another long silence.
To this day I still wander at who this Stefano was. Was he just a product of our overly vivid imagination? Or perhaps we had just escaped a complete nut job. Well, at least the pizza was good.
© Ieva Lakute November 2010
ieva.lakute at bathspa.org
Ieva is studying Creative Writing at Bath Spa University