A family of four enters the Pannenkoeken house and waits by the entrance. They are approached by a waiter. He is a young waiter. He probably works at the Pannenkoeken house part time and goes to college where he studies for a less pancake orientated future. For the purposes of this story we will call him Dirk van Pannenkoek. Dirk van Pannenkoek enquires as to how he may assist the family. The family of four requests a table of four since it is what they require.
Dirk shows the family of four to the requested table with four seats and presents them each with a menu (which totals four). English menus are requested and given. Dirk does this quickly and efficiently as he is a well trained waiter.
With the menu’s arranged Dirk enquires if drinks are desired and four drinks are ordered, one each for the family of four. A short while later Dirk returns with the drinks.
When Dirk returns later once more the family of four has suddenly become a family of three. Dirk suggests that he should return when the three have become four again but the family of three insist that they are ready to order. Dirk takes out his order pad and pen and three orders follow, each of which he writes down. He waits for the fourth order for the missing member but no order is given or seems likely to be given. Confused for a moment Dirk wonders if he imagined the fourth family member or if they are a very unkind family who considers someone to be on their own and forgotten when they visit the bath room. Slightly perplexed Dirk returns to the kitchen.
My father had spent a good amount of time umming and erring his way through the menu’s selection of pancakes on offer. It seems that no amount of ice cream or strawberry toppings could change his opinion of the pancakes nutritional value so he volunteered to go to the McDonald’s across the street. Shortly after he left the waiter had returned.
Dirk returns with three pancakes for the family of three but something else is wrong now. It quickly becomes apparent that a mistake was made in the order. One of the three pancakes is wrong. Dirk apologizes for the mistake but the family offers to pay for the incorrect pancake anyway. Dirk does not know how to react to the English politeness so he puts the pancake down in front of the empty fourth seat and takes a new order with his pad and pen.
Dirk returns to the kitchen more confused than previously. He is confused by their politeness about the error while they showed such disregard for the missing fourth member (he still wonders if he imagine that). And why had he witnessed the young lady hitting the young man in the arm as he had approached the table.
Even with the English menus the pancakes had a lot of unusual names so it was no surprise when my mother got the names mixed-up and ordered the wrong pancake. When the waiter had returned with a pancake covered in chicken instead of a pancake covered in ice cream the mistake became apparent and she ordered a new pancake.
The unusual sounding names were also the reason I had started making jokes at the expense of my girlfriend and her pancake order. I can be incredibly immature at times and anyone who orders a pancake called, “The farmer’s daughter,” is just asking for it.
“Have you had the farmer’s daughter before?”
“Yes. A few times.”
“So you’ve enjoyed having the farmer’s daughter a lot?”
She hit me on the arm when she realized what I was doing.
Dirk returns to the family of three with the new pancake. He is about to put it down on the table when he suddenly notices something that courses him to pause. The family of three has become a family of four again and the fourth member is sitting with a pancake in front of him.
The confusion that Dirk is experiencing is very apparent on his face. A few seconds pass before he realizes he is standing still, staring at the family, holding the new pancake in mid putting it down motion. The fourth family member smiles at him, looking happy with his pancake.
The cogs in his head are trying to turn. A family of four had ordered four drinks only to become a family of three who ordered three pancakes and then ordered an extra one to become a family of four again.
Dirk puts the pancake down. Dirk wishes the family of four a happy meal. Dirk turns around and leaves. Dirk returns to the kitchen. Dirk sobs in the corner of the kitchen while rocking back and forth.
After a successful trip to the McDonald’s my father had returned. He had sat back in his unoccupied seat and was slightly confused by what looked like a chicken covered pancake we had ordered for him in his absence. Once we had explained the mix up he was less confused than our waiter looked when he returned. My father gave the waiter one of those awkward British smiles as if to say, “It’s alright. This kind of thing happens to us a lot.”