Entry 398: Unstable Table

Please give me a moment to complain about one of the relatively trivial annoyances of modern society.

I can’t tell you how often the following has happened to me:

My wife Barbara and I go to a restaurant. We’re classy people, uf_geller_122206[1]so this is not Burger King or even Red Lobster, although it maybe also isn’t Babbo. The maitre’d shows us to our table and holds a chair out for Barbara, who will invariably sit at the opposite place setting, although she cannot explain why. We sit down, and I lean forward, perhaps to whisper something romantic to my lovely bride, or maybe to wipe some schmutz off her chin. And when I lean on my side of the table, a spoon on her side does a little flip, as if Uri Geller is in the room.

We then find that we can rock the table back and forth in time to the obnoxious bass-heavy disco music eateries insist on playing these days. We mention the seesaw-like nature of the furniture to our server, who dutifully goes down on his or her knees to fix the problem by stuffing a wad of paper under one of the legs.

Like I said–a trivial annoyance…a minor inconvenience…a small quality of life issue akin to the barista at Starbucks overfilling the cup so that you can’t add milk without making a mess. It’s not like food is sliding off the table or anything.

But here’s my question: how did the table get that way in the first place?

To me, this is one of the great mysteries of our age. I mean, think about it: The table had to have been steady when it was first installed, right? I wouldn’t think that, prior to opening the place, the owner would have leaned on the table, felt the wobble, and thought, “Eh, close enough.”

So what has happened to make it uneven now? And, unless we’re the first party ever to sit at that table, why has no one else said anything so they could fix it permanently?

I figure there are only a few possible explanations:

  • A portion of the floor has sunk slightly since the last people sat there.
  • One of the table’s legs is eroding.
  • Every other person who has ever sat at that table has been somewhat lopsided themselves, so they didn’t notice the rocking.
  • Barb and I both have inner ear infections that affect our sense of balance so that we only think the table is rocking.
  • Since many restaurants don’t have matchbooks anymore, previous diners have taken the wad of paper home as a souvenir.
  • An extremely minor earthquake measuring 1.0 on the Richter Scale occurred moments before we sat down, and our table was at the epicenter.

Here’s the other thing I don’t understand, The very first time that table needed a boost from a liquor box divider, why didn’t they fix the damn thing? I realize that might not be the easiest thing to accomplish. They’d have to affix something like a platform heel to that leg. Or else they’d have to saw off the bottoms of the other three legs to match, but then they’d have to buy new, lower chairs so as not to have the table balanced on the diners’ thighs. And then the people at that table would wonder why they were sitting lower than everyone else, as if they were at the children’s table at a family gathering.

The problem is prevalent enough so that a recent episode of Shark Tank featured an jack_prod_01[1]entrepreneur who had invented something called a Table Jack to fix wobbly tables. Unfortunately, it only worked on the type of table with a multi-pronged base rather than regular legs, and the sharks didn’t like how he valued his company or some such thing, so instead they invested in a firm that makes toys out of cardboard boxes. Of course, those same cardboard boxes could instead be cut up into pieces that can be stuffed under table legs.

But, okay, so maybe there is no way to fix an unstable table. Fine. Then how about replacing the table, you cheap bastard? After all, if the furniture in your dining room is so old and spoiled, what does that imply about the ingredients in your kitchen? And, really, it doesn’t reflect well on your establishment to have your servers on their knees under the tables. People might get the wrong idea.

See you soon.

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