One of the questions my readers most frequently ask me is, “Do all of the crazy things you write about REALLY happen or do you make them up?”
All I can say is that if they really knew me, they wouldn’t have to ask that question. You see, I’m pretty sure I was born with a big craziness magnet in my body. And believe me, over the years, that magnet has attracted some pretty weird stuff.
Take, for example, an incident that happened just last week that proved to me that my craziness magnet still has a lot of pull.
Several years ago, thanks to my column, a sweet lady named Dot, from Dunbarton, wrote to me. I answered her letter, and after that, she and I wrote to each other on a regular basis. Dot moved down to Florida four years ago, but we continued to correspond. Well, last week, I was surprised to receive a call from her. She said she was visiting her sister in Massachusetts and wanted to know if I’d like to go out to lunch on Tuesday.
So last Tuesday, Dot and I met at a popular restaurant in Bedford. One of the specials that day was Yankee pot roast, which is one of my favorites, so we both ordered it.
I’m the type of person who likes my food so hot it burns the skin off the roof of my mouth, so when my meal arrived without clouds of steam rising from it, I asked the server if she could heat it up for me. She smiled, said it was no problem and grabbed my plate. She also grabbed Dot’s (even though Dot thought her meal was fine the way it was) and disappeared into the kitchen.
A few minutes later, as Dot and I sat chatting and catching up on each other’s news, the restaurant’s fire alarms suddenly began to blare. Dot stopped talking in mid-sentence and we stared wide-eyed at each other, wondering what was going on.
“We’d like all of you to please leave in an orderly fashion through the front door,” a server announced to everyone in our room.
I honestly thought she was joking. “You’re serious?” I asked.
She nodded. “This isn’t a drill. This is real.”
“Can I take my drink?” one woman, who obviously wasn’t all that concerned about being turned into a giant ash, called out.
“No!” the server answered.
Dot and I filed out of the building along with the rest of the customers and the employees. Then all of us stood outside in the parking lot, like a big herd of cattle, not certain what we should do next. I happened to spot a customer who’d taken a huge club sandwich outside with him and was standing there, eating it. Another elderly man still had his napkin tucked into his collar and was holding a fork. I couldn’t help it…I started to giggle.
Still giggling, I said to Dot, more loudly than I’d intended, “Sure, I asked them to heat up my meal, but I didn’t mean this hot!”
Other people started to giggle, too.
A few minutes later, a fire engine rolled into the parking lot, but it went right past us and pulled up in front of a clothing store in the strip mall adjacent to the restaurant. Within 15 minutes, we were given the “all clear” to return to the restaurant.
Just as Dot and I were about to sit down at our table again, a server, carrying a dish of vegetables she’d just picked up from one of the tables, rushed past us and accidentally bumped into Dot. The dish went flying into the air and landed upside down on the floor, sending broccoli, carrots and summer squash rolling everywhere.
Dodging the server, who was on her knees, picking up vegetables, we finally took our seats. Dot looked at me, shook her head and said, laughing, “You know, I had a relatively peaceful, normal life until I went out with you today!”
At that point, one of the owners of the restaurant came over to chat with us. He explained that an employee in the clothing store next door had been using a steamer to de-wrinkle clothes, and the heat from the steamer accidentally had set off the fire alarms. “I just got here a few minutes ago and didn’t know what was going on,” he added. “So when I first saw everyone standing out in the parking lot, I thought, ‘Wow! What a huge lunch crowd! It must be a big banquet or a family reunion or something!’”
Dot and I finally were given freshly prepared, very hot pot-roast dinners, which we enjoyed. But by then, it nearly was three o’clock, so we were hungry enough to enjoy just about anything. Heck, I even would have settled for (heaven forbid) lukewarm pot roast.
As we ate, a server went to each table and handed $15 gift cards to everyone, to apologize for the inconvenience.
It was after 3:30 when Dot and I finally left the restaurant. “This sure has been a crazy day!” she said to me, just before we said our good-byes.
Crazy? It seemed pretty normal to me.