damned if you do… (or, why seinfeld was a show about everything)

Was recently enjoying breakfast with some past work comrades. It’s the kind of place at which you walk up and order your food, and then you take a seat with a number and they bring it out to you.

I ordered my normal stack of pancakes, eggs and sausage. For some reason, the woman taking my order asked “One pancake?” I replied with “no, the full stack, please.”

Following our orders, the four of us retreated to our table. Shortly after sitting, I needed to go back up to the ordering desk because I needed some napkins. While there, I noticed on the grill that the three blueberry pancakes friend Kay ordered were on the grill and next to them, one regular pancake.

I went back to the table and observed to my friends that there’s only one regular pancake on the grill, and I wonder if the woman who took my order went ahead and only gave me one, anyway. So, I checked my receipt, and I was charged for the full three.

This is exactly the kind of situation in which Larry David has built an entire career. As Matt (of Astuteo fame) said, “you’re screwed.”

If I just sat there and hoped for the best, my food would come out with only one pancake, and then I’d have to ask for the other two, which would mean they’d have to go back and make them while I sat with the other half of my breakfast order. The timing would be all off and the breakfast experience would be ruined.

If I went up and asked if they were only making me one pancake, they probably get all pissed off, think I was a jerk for questioning them and then pee on the grill (or something less obvious). You never want to anger one who is making food for you. This upsets one of our great societal balances.

Finally, I walked up and asked the woman, “Is that my pancake, because I only see one, but I ordered three.” She told me that she knew and that I was going to get all three. My first thought was that indeed, I had assumed incorrectly. However, in the time it took me to turn and walk back to my table, she turned around to the cook and two more pancakes hit the grill.

Some people observe, notice and really dissect situations like this. Those are the people to whom Seinfeld wasn’t merely a comedy, but required social analysis. To those who don’t see these kinds of things, Seinfeld was “a show about nothing.”


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