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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Word Choice

A couple of weeks ago our friends invited us out to dinner to celebrate Trent's recent birthday. These wonderful friends of ours are currently in the throes of Weight Watchers. Now, I've never been a member of a weight-loss program, so I really can't say a great deal about how they work. However, you do pick up bits and pieces of information from people you know and advertisements and such. What follows is based on information I have gotten by those means, and any errors are entirely mine. This is also neither an endorsement or indictment of Weight Watchers or any other dieting plan or method, it's just another story from The Lunatic.

WW (Weight Watchers) has created a system to make the task of losing weight less like a job. Instead of counting calories or portions of foods from various food groups, they use a point system. Every food has a point value per serving. Every member has a daily points allowance which is undoubtedly based on their current size and weight loss goals. There are points values for all sorts of things, including dishes on restaurant menus.

Since the amount of points at your disposal covers everything you will eat in a day, some planning and sacrifice might be necessary so that you don't end up going to dinner and being unable to eat anything. That extra breakfast sandwich might make lunch or dinner quite a bit smaller, and a light lunch might enable you to splurge at dinnertime. When we eat with our friends who are on WW, whether at home or at a restaurant, they use their points allowance to help determine what they will be able to eat.

So, when we went out for dinner at a steakhouse nearby, our friends got out their smartphones and searched for the points values of the various items they were interested in eating. I looked at the menu and decided fairly quickly what I wanted to eat, but enjoyed being a lookie-Lou and reading all of the offerings on the menu. As I read about various sauces and preparations I was aware of the discussion of points from the other side of the table, something I've grown used to hearing.

When our server delivered our drinks and asked us if we wanted an appetizer, Mr. Host said that he could afford it but wasn't sure if Mrs. Host could, would he give us a few more minutes, please? Our server abruptly turned on his heels and walked away from the table. Ouch. I was fairly certain that the server had no idea that Mr. Host was referring to daily points allowances. I said very quietly to our hosts that perhaps that wasn't the best thing to say to a server in a restaurant, that you could afford something and another person might not be able to do so. The server would probably assume that one was referring to money.

I'm afraid that on that count, I may have been right. It would seem that our server jumped to a few conclusions based on the most common usage of the word afford. I'm guessing that he thought our host wasn't paying for his wife's dinner, and that she didn't have much to spend, because our service was abysmal. From sitting down to getting up to leave the restaurant, it took two hours for us to get through our meal, and we had been seated before five o'clock. There were long periods of neglect interspersed with things like our server walking away while we were trying to decide whether we wanted to order desserts. He was probably afraid we were going to do a D&D (dine and dash) and run out on the big bill. Sigh.

When Mr. Host spoke to the manager about our poor service, the manager was surprised because he considers our server to be one of the best members of his staff. What can I say? I think it was an unfortunate case of being bitten by the words we use. Often what is so clear to us conveys an entirely different message to others. It happens. We all survived, we ate well, the bill was paid and the server tipped. My food was fabulous and the dessert was a sinfully delightful mix of chocolate, ice cream, and whipped cream. And we had plenty of time to eat it...



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