Tasty, tasty guilt

By Mir
January 17, 2009

So, it was kind of a long week. And yesterday I had make-up lunch plans with a friend, because last week we’d had plans and then one of my children rudely spiked a fever and needed to stay home from school and I’d had to cancel. (GOD. Like that was more important than me going out to lunch, or something.)

Anyway, I felt bad for having canceled last week, so when we were getting organized and she suggested going to the restaurant where the owner backed into Otto’s car, I said sure.

On the one hand, Otto and I haven’t been there since that happened. Sort of a silent protest, if you will. On the other hand, CHEESE GRITS. Like, really good cheese grits. And Otto was out of town for the day, so I could basically sneak over there, eat delicious cheese grits, and he would never know, and so would not be able to accuse me of being more loyal to carby goodness than to him.

(Thank goodness he’ll never know I was there. Oh. Um. Right….)

Off to the restaurant I went, looking forward to seeing my friend and also to having delicious food. I did make sure to park well out of the way of the entrance, though.

My friend arrived. We hugged; we gabbed; we ordered. And we’d been there approximately three minutes when my dining companion saw someone she knew and needed to go say hello. This totally amused me, because this particular friend seems to know absolutely everyone; I have yet to see her anywhere that she doesn’t run into someone she knows. As someone who knows about five people and spends the better part of her life hiding in her office, this is entertaining. (I enjoy observing social people. It’s like having a life, vicariously!)

Our food came and I fell face-first into some sweet potato bisque. (I had decided against cheese grits because I was trying to make a healthier choice, not realizing that the cup of bisque that came with my sandwich was approximately 247% cream. I may have licked the cup.) All this time, we’re talking, and our waitress has come by a few times to check on us and refill our water glasses, and suddenly the owner is coming over to our table…

… to talk to my friend. Because she knows her. OF COURSE SHE KNOWS HER. My friend introduced me.

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Owner.” She was leaning in and I had about two seconds to decide what to do. I made the mature decision—I’d just pretend this was the first time we’d met!

“Hi, Owner, it’s nice to—” I didn’t finish. Her forehead was creasing. She was staring at me intently.

“You look SO FAMILIAR,” she said. “Do I know you?”

She was staring at me. My friend was cocking an eyebrow at the two of us. I sighed.

“Yes, you do,” I said. “Um, my husband and I came here about a year and a half ago for breakfast, and—” her hands flew up to her mouth.

“And I HIT HIS CAR! Oh my GOD, I am SO SORRY!”

I couldn’t be sure, but I think my friend was trying really hard not to laugh.

“It’s okay. I mean, he refuses to come here again, but…” her face fell, and I wanted to smack myself. Hello, foot in mouth! “It’s fine, really,” I stammered. I mean, NO, it wasn’t fine, but it was also a long time ago. And we no longer even own that car.

“No. NO! It’s not. I’ve felt so bad about it forEVER,” and before I could interject, she told my friend the whole story, complete with how she was just trying to rescue her sorority’s breakfast, and what an awful day it had been, and how she’s apparently felt guilty about this ever since.

While she talked I started to feel like kind of a jerk for having been so annoyed with her back when the accident had happened. She’s a nice enough person, and she makes good food. And she appeared to be genuinely mortified, even all this time later. So we all made nice and finally she left us to finish our lunch.

The waitress came back after a while, and announced that our lunch was on the house. We were surprised, and pleased (of course), and that feeling of how maybe I’d sort of been a jerk came back, and then the waitress continued, “And Owner also asked me to give you this—” she handed me a small envelope. “She said she hopes you’ll bring your husband back for dinner some night.” In the envelope was a voucher for dinner for two.

Now I had gone past feeling like a jerk into feeling like a total ass. Had I really just told this woman that Otto refused to come to her restaurant? And she’d responded by giving us free lunch AND dinner?

I was trying to decide what all of this MEANT when the waitress continued, “Your husband is Otto, right?” I must’ve been visibly startled, because she continued, “I’m in his class. And he’s great! I mean, Owner told me the story about the thing with the car and I was surprised because, you know, he’s just so NICE—”

“He IS nice,” my friend agreed.

“Well, yes, okay, he’s VERY nice,” I said, “unless you run into his car and then leave. And then it’s possible that he gets a little testy.”

We chatted a while longer and then left her a nice tip and got up to go. We stopped on the way out to thank Owner, again, and I told her that the dinner voucher was really unnecessary, and she said that no, it was totally necessary and she was so glad I’d come in, and then we left.

Now I just need to 1) tell Otto that I went there for lunch and that 2) we need to go have dinner there! For free! Because apparently that poor woman is afraid of my husband, now!

Probably we’ll need to take my car. Just in case.


  1. exile on mom street

    Mmmm. Cheese grits.

    Did you say anything after that?

    Oh right, the thing. With the car. And free stuff!

    I think it’s just some karma working itself out. Enjoy your dinner with Otto and then make sure to tell a few people how good it was, and how nice the owner was to send a little business her way.

    Then we can get back to cheese grits because I believe that’s really what’s important here.

  2. Damsel

    I swear you are my long-lost twin, because that’s EXACTLY what would have happened to me in that situation. Word for FOOT-IN-MOUTH word. Except that I prefer smothered hashbrowns with my sole, and apparently you prefer cheese grits. To each her own, I suppose.

  3. dad

    Proving once again that justice can raise it’s classy head any place.

    Even somewhere they make cheese grits.

  4. StephLove

    Maybe on the next visit you can get your cheese grits. And bacon.

    You nixed the bacon gumballs, but how about these…


    In case you’re wondering where I get these, I read my cousin’s husband’s blog and he’s got a bacon thing that rivals yours.

  5. Brigitte

    Ooh, I am SO looking forward to Otto’s response! The betrayal! On the other hand, free food!

  6. sheila

    I’d say a year and a half is a good recovery period! lol. Get your free food! I think he at least deserves that. She should’a gave you a couple freebies.

    But yes, I think you should take YOUR car. maybe park it within walking distance, lol

  7. All Adither

    It’s nice to know she has a conscience. Most people do. Thankfully.

  8. Megan

    Must be early (it is! Well, here. Sort of…) on a Saturday because I was totally going to suggest that you don’t have to take Otto at all and could just have a lovely dinner with a friend, ignoring totally the fact that this is not at all what the owner intended (which, natch, guilt would preclude anyway).

    Yeah. Until I remembered that the owner (and staff) kinda sorta really know what Otto looks like… and that Otto himself is not entirely ignorant of this blog.

    Cool. Now that I’ve proven I’m mentally and morally completely useless I think I’m ready for the rest of the day!

  9. kath

    I echo Sheila’s comments – a year and a half is long enough – but I should talk, we drive to a gas station that is 5 miles farther away because my husband was slighted (their debit machine rejected his card and the attendant said it was the card’s fault but the card worked at the next stop so we don’t go there because they blamed the card) and I boycott it even though I don’t have a dog in that fight ….

  10. Lucinda

    I reread the post about the accident. I don’t think you put your foot in your mouth. I think it was completely valid to let her know that she had lost a customer and it gave her a chance to do something nice, even if it was a token gesture. Take the free food and enjoy it. It’s been a year and a half. She had your contact information. I’m sure she could have contacted you sometime in the past 18 months to check on the situation and she didn’t. So this is karma and I think you did nothing wrong. It’s something, as a person and a business owner, she needed to hear.

  11. Wendalette

    A year and a half ago! I remember reading the original post about the incident…it didn’t seem that long ago. Perhaps the owner feels the same way — like it happened only weeks rather than months ago. I’m glad things worked out so agreeably. Enjoy the cheese grits!

    Mmmmmm…I’m hungry now.

  12. Giyen

    Oh I love that she paid for your lunch AND gave you a voucher for dinner. That’s guilt.

    I love cheese grits. I love sweet potato bisque. I am salivating. I am going to go eat a sad power bar now.

  13. Flea

    Too hilarious! And doesn’t all bisque have 247% cream? That’s why we loves it so.

    Have a fun time eating out with Otto!

  14. Cele

    Oh my gosh that is a hoot and she is feeling massively embarassassed and guilty. Bon Appetite.

  15. jennielynn

    Maybe seeing how embarrassed she is will help soothe Otto’s irritation?

  16. Chuck

    Despite having lived in Texas for almost three years now, I still haven’t tried grits. Cheese grits though do sound yummy. And enjoy your free stuff. You deserve it!

  17. Laura

    Free food is the best!

  18. Poppy Buxom

    Apologies. Free lunch. Free dinner.


    I loves me some happy endings.

  19. Lady of Perpetual Chaos

    When I first read the title I thought it said “Tasty tasty quilt”. Odd, but I was intrigued. Guilt makes much more sense! ;o)

  20. Barbara

    “It’s like having a life, vicariously!”

    It’s like us, reading you.

  21. Ruth

    OK, I LOVE this story! What a nice outcome. I bet now you can really let this go. I totally understand why you wouldn’t go there again after the car incident so it’s just so cool that it worked out so nicely!


  22. Karen

    Maybe this could be a good thrifty tip on your other blog, you know, go to dinner, get hit by car, come back a year later…what? Oh, no I guess not. Good story though!

  23. Ani

    I just chuckled and wondered if she ever read your original blog entry.

  24. daysgoby

    What did Otto say??

  25. Heather

    I think Otto needs to comment already. Gosh :P Seriously Mir…only you haha! If you did end up having to pay, at least it would be a write-off considering all the blog fodder you get out of it! ;)

  26. Rachel

    I was looking for Otto’s comment & can’t wait to read it!

    I was also thinking, free meal, Awesome!!! Then I went back and read the entry from when the accident happened, and I’m with Otto, I wouldn’t go near that place. If you do, please take a taxi… and I’d ask to watch them make your food so they don’t spit in it, just sayin’.

  27. Wendy

    I read this and remembered the incident without having to go back and check…made me think WOW, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time! Where does the time go? haha :-)

  28. Otto

    I don’t think I hold grudges, but I guess I do. I have not spent a penny of my money in WalMart since February 20, 1998. I stopped shopping at MVP Sports a few months after that. And I hope to God that I will never again have to deal with Charter cable service. (This is an excerpt from what my family calls The List.)

    Customer service is just so easy to get right, yet so many places get it so catastrophically wrong. All you have to do is try. Really, it’s okay if it doesn’t work out – but you need to have some basic level of care and concern.

    I have grunted and grumbled at this place for 17 months as I drive by it every day. It reminds me of the 21 trips to the auto body shops I had to make. The annoyance when the first shop made it worse, but also the happiness that came from the efforts of the second body shop to make it right. (There’s some sort of diatribe in here about how American manufacturers are in trouble not just at the manufacturing end but also the sales end because of bad customer service, as two weeks with a Chevrolet dealer’s body shop couldn’t get a simple repair right, yet the Mercedes Benz-Volkswagen-Nissan shop kept at it until they were happier than I was.)

    I also believe in forgiveness, having been graced with it a few times. So … I will go with my beautiful wife and put this all in the past.

    But we are taking her car.


  29. margie

    i expect otto will laugh, if you tell the story with a huge dose of humour.

  30. becky

    Oh dear. I would have been MORTIFIED if I let it slip that hubby was holding a grudge like that. But it sounds like you kinda were – I feel for you! And Otto’s comment is totally cracking me up. Ha!

  31. nil zed

    cheese grits! ohmigosh I miss cheese grits! when I get back to the states I am making a whole batch and not sharing!

  32. StephLove

    I asked my 2 y/o if she wanted grits for breakfast this morning and she said, “Yes and I want cheese on dem.” I thought you’d be proud. I should admit, though, I usually make cheese grits a la Waffle House, with a square of American cheese melted on top. But that’s how she likes it. “Square cheese” she specified, as if to make sure I didn’t get any fancy ideas about grating some cheddar.

  33. laurie

    Can’t you take a bus, or a subway, or a taxi there? Or just walk? ah, the joys of city living…

  34. margie

    oh otto, i have a list too!! the kids call it… mom’s s.o.b.’s list!

  35. Lisa B

    mmmmmmmm Cheese grits mmmmmmm

  36. the domestic fringe

    Pretty funny story. At least you got a free lunch and dinner for two. A mean and nasty restaurant owner could’ve hit your husband’s car and then there would be no freebies. I guess it’s your silver lining.

  37. BethRD


    I happen to know that not only do you hold grudges against merchants, you ask your friends to hold them for you. I know there’s a muffler place I’m not supposed to patronize – is it Meineke? But I think holding grudges against chain stores, while a little pointless maybe, is a lot more harmless than holding grudges against loved ones. So it’s all good.

    Mir and Otto, I hope you guys have a great dinner!

  38. Katie in MA

    I happen to know that mortification and guilt burns a lot of calories, so just go ahead and get the grits. (Although, ick!) At least, it FEELS like you’re burning a million calories if your stomach twists and turns and does any number of acrobatics during said mortification and guilt!

  39. MomCat

    Sweet Potato bisque….can’t see through the haze of drool on my screen. Yummmmm…

  40. ImpostorMom

    I must know where to find these cheese grits!

  41. Lori

    Can you please stop talking about cheese grits and sweet potato soup while I’m TRYING to make healthy choices? November or December are acceptable months to speak of such things.

  42. Trish/Astrogirl426

    I completely understand – while Bunker Hubs has his own list (referred to, with much originality, as The Shit List), on which Sears has a starring role, I have a hard time holding retail grudges. Not because I havent been wronged shopping-wise, but because I have a hard time giving up certain places – and can be won back with a good sale on cute shoes (I’m cheap, AND easy!).

    Actually, come to think of it, there are not really any places that have screwed me over that badly. The worst was probably the oil change place that took THREE EFFIN HOURS to change my oil. Wha-huh? And then didn’t even offer to take anything off the bill. Bastards – I’ll never go there again.

    So like I said, I don’t hold grudges. Except when I do ;)

  43. Camels & Chocolate

    Ha, that’s funny! Can’t believe she recognized you after assumedly seeing thousands of customers since The Incident.

  44. Camels & Chocolate

    Also, sweet potato bisque sounds AMAZING. I bought a low-fat version in a carton from Trader Joe’s but someone I don’t think it will taste nearly as good as a kind with 247% cream!

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