Bethany and I got similar degrees from the same university, are long-haired brunettes, Christians, and are both well-spoken perfectionists who work in the same department at the same company. We even shared an office for six months when she first started. Now we sit in cubicles next to each other, and I’m relieved we do because some days she is the only good thing about my work day.
Last week Bethany suggested a new place for lunch – some hole-in-the-wall Italian place. Our new workaholic boss had scheduled a meeting over the lunch hour, so in our effort to grab some quick sustenance before the meeting, we ended up arriving before the restaurant opened.
I call it a restaurant, but it was more of a storefront in a pseudo indoor strip shopping center; like something you’d see at a mall food court. Some cute guy stepped up to the register and offered to take our orders at 11:01, so Bethany placed an order for spaghetti.
“What kind of sauce do you want on it?” asked the broad-shouldered cashier, gesturing to the list of sauce options.
“Just the regular sauce,” said Bethany with a wave of her hand.
The cashier quirked an eyebrow and replied with a sideways smile, “There’s nothing regular here.”
“Okay, I’ll take…” Bethany quickly scanned the menu. “Joey’s marinara.” As she made her sauce selection, Bethany glanced at the name stitched into the buff cashier’s apron. “Oh… And you’re Joey! Hi.”
We all laughed. Sure enough, it was the owner himself taking our orders (and wearing his apron rather well). As Joey turned to me, I smiled involuntarily. He immediately commented, “You have such a pretty smile. What can I get for you?”
My heart fluttered. Surprised at myself, I placed an order for a Caprese salad with turkey meatballs… and Joey’s marinara sauce.
When we sat down, Bethany commented to me, “I usually find interactions like that creepy, but he’s actually genuinely charming.” I completely agreed.
I kept glancing over at Joey as he moved about the kitchen. He had a nice bulk to him; I like bigger guys who are broad-shouldered but trim. I usually dislike Brooklyn accents, but Joey’s suited him. He’s a classic New York Italian.
When our orders were ready, instead of calling out our numbers like he did for everyone else, Joey came to our table and delivered our food himself. Later, he stopped by again with two cannolis. “You two are so sweet, I want to make sure you stay that way.” Lines like that shouldn’t work on me, but it totally did when Joey said it with his playful smile and larger-than-life personality.
Bethany asked Joey how we could get on their mailing list to be kept aware of specials (last week’s was his mother’s traditional chicken parmesan recipe). He brought out two customer survey cards, and I wrote, “Great customer service. Fantastic food. I’ll definitely be back!”
When Bethany finished writing, we glanced at each other’s cards and burst out laughing. She’d written, “Good service, Great food. We’ll be back!” We are two peas in a pod. Or perhaps two meatballs in a sub…?