The other day I physically attacked a waitress. I didn’t mean for it to happen. She certainly didn’t deserve it. She had been polite, she hadn’t kept us waiting for long and she had even gotten our order correct. But I attacked her anyway… but not intentionally.
It all happened in a small cafe in Amsterdam as I had lunch with two friends. I was in the middle of telling a joke. It wasn’t a particularly funny joke in hindsight but I was being very animated while telling it. Unfortunately, as I threw my hands into the air to tell the punch line I was unaware of the waitress walking up behind me holding two cups of mint tea (which we had ordered).
What happened next happened extremely fast so I will slow the text down, allowing you to properly follow the full sequence of events.
As I threw my hands into the air I felt one of them suddenly connect with something hard. This was followed by a sudden gasp from everyone in the cafe.
I quickly spun around in my chair to see that I had just punched a glass tea cup out of the waitresses hand and propelled it across the room. In a panic I reached out to grab the airborne tea cup but I was too late. It was already out of reach and flying towards a table of two now very nervous looking business men.
This also meant that instead of grabbing the tea cup (which was still in flight) I awkwardly grabbed the waitresses now empty hand, throwing her off balance. Suddenly the tea cup in her other hand was sent flying in the opposite direction as she started to stumble backwards.
I quickly tried to reach out again, this time to stop her from falling. At least that had been my intention. Due to my general lack of coordination I only made matters worse. Instead of reaching out a helping hand and steadying her I unintentionally pushed her down the small flight of stairs that lead up to our table.
The contents of tea cup number one narrowly missed landing in the business man’s lap. Tea cup number two landed with a smash on the wooden floor and the waitress landed with a thump on her butt.
Everything was suddenly still again… To everyone in that small cafe it had just looked like I’d disapprovingly pushed the tea away and shoved the waitress down the stairs for bringing me such a unsatisfactory beverage.
My friends looked shocked. The waitress looked shaken. The business men looked relieved. I looked at the door and wondered how quickly I could make my escape. However, retreat was not an option because not only would it have been impolite and rude but the fallen waitress was between me and the door.
Luckily (for me and for her) the waitress was alright. She was quickly back on her feet and trying to make sense of what had just happened as I blurted out an embarrassed apology the way only an Englishman can (to both her and the business man who had almost been covered in boiling water and mint leafs).
For the rest of lunch I sat very still, not daring to move my arms. The waitress brought us two new teas. This time she announced her approach just to be safe. I occasionally apologised again just to make sure that everyone was aware it had really, really been an accident (and not some violent outburst). They seemed to believe me but kept their distance.
I’ve not been back to the cafe since.. just to be safe.