Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Very Scary Hybrid

I do my best to get along with everyone, but there are two groups of people in this world who I go to great lengths to avoid: drunks and children.  There are some striking--and very annoying--similarities between these seemingly unrelated groups.  Both are loud, annoying, and messy; both are notorious for exhibiting childish behavior, and neither group is guilt-free when it comes to spitting up and urinating in the most unfortunate places and situations.  And no one wants to encounter drunks or children behind the wheel....unless you're driving and they're pedestrians...can anyone say "speed bump"?

My only consolation is that these groups tend to be mutually exclusive.  You'll occasionally encounter drunks, you'll occasionally encounter children, but they don't usually hang out in the same places.  Children aren't allowed in bars, and drunks usually don't spent a lot of time around daycare centers, playgrounds, or elementary schools...except for the really creepy drunks.  That's good news, because one of the scariest and most ferociously annoying mythical creates in fictional lore is the hybrid drunk child.  As long as the two groups remain mutually exclusive, I can maintain the status quo and steer clear of their frequent hangouts.

 Both bad, but manageable when separate...

But the careless employees at the Olive Garden threaten to upset the balance of the universe with their reckless, care-free approach to beverage service. Earlier this week at an Indianapolis Olive Garden restaurant, a mother--apparently unconcerned with altering the course of her young boy's sexual orientation--ordered a "Wildberry Frullato" for her ten year-old son. (Much like the rest of Olive Garden's menu, this is a weak attempt at creating an "authentic" Italian dining experience--in this case, in the form of a smoothie.)

Instead of fetching the faux-Italian fruit and yogurt drink, the waitress returned to the table with a strawberry daiquiri, which includes rum as one of its primary ingredients.  The waitress realized her mistake and started a game of fast-casual-dining-telephone, informing her manager, who told the boy's parents that their son was sipping booze.  By the time they found out, he'd downed about half of the four-ounce beverage. Completing the circle of stupidity with a classic display of overreaction, the parents made the final call in that game of telephone--to the police--then promptly rushed their son to the emergency room.  

Police described the kid as "alert", but "shaken up."  I'm guessing he was upset that happy hour ended early and that his parents were panicking as if he'd just chugged a bottle of bleach.  What happened to the days when mothers on the western frontier put their crying babies to sleep with a shot of whiskey?  The way this situation played out is a clear sign that Olive Garden is about as far from authentic Italian dining as a person can get.  If this had been Italy, every ten year-old in the restaurant would have been drinking wine straight out of the bottle...

Beverage service seems to be a consistent problem in the fast casual dining segment of the restaurant industry, particularly in the Midwest states.  A very similar story played out last April at an establishment whose classiness rivals that of the Olive Garden.  At a Michigan Applebee's, a 15 month old received a cup of margarita mix instead of apple juice.  His parents started to suspect something was amiss when they noticed their toddler's strange, even-more-annoying-than-usual-for-a-child behavior.  His mom claims that he was "saying 'hi' and 'bye' to the walls" before he became hyper.  Applebee's workers at the restaurant blamed a mislabeled container for the blunder.

I'd be happy to hand label every beverage container in the country--we just can't have this.  I'm not the least bit concerned about children's safety; I just think that children in restaurants are bad enough under ordinary circumstances.  Loud, crying, messy, annoying...sounds a lot like a drunk person, doesn't it?  If we get alcohol in these kids, there's no telling where this will end.  You'd have to be glutton for punishment to voluntarily dine at an Olive Garden or Applebee's to begin with, but with the threat of alcohol-fueled children further damaging the experience, these restaurants will become downright uninhabitable.

I'm happy to report that the Olive Garden waitress was promptly fired for her mistake, but I haven't heard how the staff member at Applebee's fared--and I haven't slept a wink since I read the story.  How can I go on, knowing that a hybrid monster could be unleashed upon the world at any moment?  No one is safe...and especially not me, living dangerously close to a Chili's restaurant.  That's the only logical prediction for the next location of a catastrophic alcohol-and-child mix-up.  

The Mayans predicted that the world will come to end in December, 2012.  If they end up getting this one right, I can confidently cite the cause right now:

If you're not prone to nightmares, here are some links to the full stories:

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