Offering a second chance

Tales from the front pew

Everyone deserves a second chance, even a restaurant. Operating on that principle, the other evening my husband Bob, daughter Val, and I went to a local restaurant we hadn’t visited in a few years.

While we’ve patronized pretty much every food establishment in the area, we hadn’t returned to this one. Bob and I had initially gone to this restaurant about five years ago when we moved to our present home. It had looked pleasant enough from the outside, and there were plenty of empty parking spaces — perhaps that should have given us a clue.

While I don’t remember all the details from five years ago, I vividly recall walking to our car an hour later and saying to Bob, “That was terrible! Let’s make sure we never go there again.”

Never say never. When we found ourselves exhausted and hungry after a long day of work, heading to a restaurant sounded like a good idea. Driving past several of our favorites, we saw that they were all very crowded.

“I know,” Bob said. “Why don’t we give The Happy Chef another try? It’s been a long time.”

“Honey,” I told him with a grimace, “The reason the chef is so ‘happy’ is that he doesn’t eat there.”

“Come on, mom,” Val chimed in. “I’ve never been there.”

“For which you should count your blessings, sweetie.”

“Kim, it might have improved over time,” Bob said. “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

I was outnumbered. “Fine, let’s give it another chance,” I said.

The place was still attractive, and our waitress was friendly. So far, so good. Looking at our menus, Bob chose liver and onions and Val and I decided on roast turkey.

“That should be safe,” I thought to myself. “It’s hard to mess up turkey.”

Hard, but not impossible. Granted, the neon yellow gravy poured over everything was a bit off-putting all by itself. However, things quickly went from bad to worse when I put a forkful of the stuff in my mouth.

“This is cold,” I said to Bob and Val. “Is yours cold, too, Val?”

“Mine? Cold? Umm … no, not at all. It’s just fine,” she assured me, all the while moving her food listlessly on her plate.

“No, huh? Then why aren’t you eating?”

“I guess I just wasn’t as hungry as I thought I was,” she said unconvincingly.

“Strike one,” I said, looking at Bob.

Deciding the dinner rolls would be edible, I searched the basket for a pat of butter, only to find some margarine-type spread. Being a die-hard butter fan, this was more than a little disappointing.

“I know,” Bob said, following my gaze. “Strike two.”

“Maybe I’m being a little hard on this place,” I said. “When the waitress comes to refill our drinks, I’ll see if they have any butter.”

There was one problem. She never came to refill them. In fact, we didn’t see her again until she brought our bill to the table. Strike three.

Yep, everyone deserves a second chance. Just between you and me, I’m awfully glad God gives us a lot more than two.