Another breakfast without breakfast

This one's on me, for the most part. I'm the one to blame. 

I hate phones, never answer the phone, never talk on the phone, and usually leave it at home. I'm weird that way, but I'm weird in lots of ways, and everyone in my family knows that I ignore the phone. It's a running joke when I see any of them:

I'll call you.
Oh, wait, I can't call you.
You won't answer the phone.

Currently I'm looking for a job, so very temporarily my phone is with me, and the ringer is on. That's so highly unusual, that when my phone rang while I was riding the bus, on my way to the weekly family breakfast at the diner, I wasn't even sure it was my phone. It never rings audibly, so I didn't recognize the tune.

A job offer seemed unlikely on a Saturday morning, but if I'd kept the ringer off I'd forget to turn it on come Monday, so I sneaked a peek to see who was calling. It was my brother Dick, but I never answer the phone, and never ever on the bus. I ignored it.

At the next intersection, the phone rang again. It was Dick, again. What the hell? What's the emergency? Even if there's been a death in the family, I'd prefer finding out who's dead after eating breakfast, so I ignored the phone. I always ignore the phone.

For the rest on my ride to the restaurant, it kept ringing. I turned the volume way down. When I got off the bus, I checked my messages — one voice mail, one missed call, and four text messages, all from Dick, all received in the previous few minutes. What was so vitally important?

I'm coming to breakfast, said Dick in a voice mail much longer than that.

I'm coming to breakfast, is also the abridged version of Dick's first text.

I'm stuck in traffic, was Dick's second text.

Hope you're getting these messages, was Dick's third text.

I'm coming to breakfast, but I might be late, was Dick's fourth text.

Bro — If you're coming to breakfast, come to breakfast. If you're late, you're late, but screw all these calls and texts.

Yes and of course and I know that normal people call and text all day long — constant updates about everything. That's why I don't usually carry a phone, and the ringer is always off, but the one time it's with me and the ringer is on, it's just ring ring ring. Then my phone rang again, so I shut the ringer off. (Note to self: Remember to turn the ringer on again, come Monday morning.)

I walked into the diner, sat at a table, and ordered only coffee. You don't order a meal when you're waiting for someone, or at least I don't.

The restaurant was busy, and more customers were coming in. Waitresses were seating people, taking orders, pouring coffee, and one waitress was walking around, saying something to people at every table. When she was two tables away, I heard what she'd been saying to everyone: "Are you Doug?"

What the hell? "Uh, I'm Doug," I said.

"You have a phone call," she said, and yup, she was carrying the receiver for the restaurant's business phone. She handed it to me, and I said into the mouthpiece, "This better be god damned good."

It was not god damned good. It was my brother Dick. "I wanted to tell you that I'm coming to breakfast and I'm running late," he said, "but you're not answering your phone."

"You have got to be shitting me," I said, and he began berating me for using un-Christian language and for not answering my cell. I looked at the phone, trying to find the button to hang up on him. When I'd clicked him away, I gave the phone back to the waitress and said, "I'm very sorry about my brother. If he calls again, please hang up or tell him to go to hell."

She gave me a sad look and said, "He yelled at me."

And I was even angrier than five seconds earlier. Dick is sometimes curt with the staff at restaurants, but — "He yelled at you? On the phone?" She shook her head yes, and I said, "I will straighten him out, and please accept my apology." She nodded, walked away, and I was furious like I haven't been furious in a looong while.

My damned brother had Googled the diner's phone number, and called them, and yelled at the waitress, to have her bring me a phone, in the middle of their breakfast rush, so he could tell me he's running late?

When he gets here, I thought, I am going to rip him a fresh bleeding hemorrhoid.

But then I saw the way it would play out. He'd argue, and tell me I should've answered my phone or some such, and I'd argue back, and then we'd be screaming or throwing punches inside Mrs Rigby's Diner. And I would be delighted to punch my brother right now — but not in the restaurant, so instead I paid for my coffee and left.

Brilliant, Doug. You wanted to be closer to the family, so you moved back to Seattle and invited them all to breakfast every Saturday morning. You damned fool.

Through text messages from Mom later, I learned that she and my sister Katrina ate pancakes with Dick at Mrs Rigby's. I hope they had a lovely meal, and hope Dick didn't yell at the waitress again.

I've sent text-message apologies to my mom and sister for standing them up. If I was a little more normal, of course, if I answered phones and responded to texts like everyone else, we would've all had a lovely breakfast together.

Instead, Dick and I argued all afternoon, but not over the phone. I don't do phones. Checked my texts at noon, 2, 4, and 6, and responded to whatever he'd sent each time, but it's all too tedious and aggravating to detail here. By sunset he'd apologized, and texted that he won't call me again.

"You can call me all you want," I said via text, "my ringer is off and I don't care, but don't call the restaurant. And also, you need to apologize to that waitress."

He says he didn't yell at the waitress, and refuses to apologize to her, but of course he yelled at her. What, she's gonna make it up?

He texted me, "Am I still invited to breakfast next Saturday?"

I texted back, "I'm not Dad. I don't make family rules. But if you ever treat a waitress rude again I'll knock your block off."

Six hours later he hasn't responded to that, and Mom texted me that Dick texted her that he doesn't feel welcome at our family breakfasts any more, and he wishes I'd call him. My reply to that was to ask Mom about her bunions.

I'll be double-damned if I'm going to call Dick on the phone. I don't do phones, and I don't do dipshits, and if he ever treats a waitress rude again I'll knock his block off.


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  1. You. Have. A. Crazy. Family.

    Love, John

    1. Well, yeah, but they have a crazy me, too.

    2. Well, yeah, but you don't raise your voice to people who can't yap back at you and you don't call people who don't answer their phone.

      It's OK, everybody has a crazy family to some extent. Most families, though, don't have an honest reporter describing the craziness in detail. When I was growing up there was craziness in my family, but I can't think of anyone who was habitually disrespectful to those outside the family. Had anyone treated waitstaff or service employees like a "dick" they would have been kicked in the ass repeatedly.

      It's true that you don't spend a lot of time on the good and generous behavior of your family. I guess that would make for less exciting reporting.

      Still, my brother, I feel for you.


    3. Well, thanks for the kind words, as always sir.

      I wonder sometimes where Dick got that. He's not (usually) openly rude to restaurant workers, but it's never conversational. Never 'good morning' or 'please'. He gives orders, and gets haughty if the orders are followed promptly and entirely. "I *asked* for more butter!" "Can we get some coffee here?" Jeez, OK, here's your damned butter *in* your damned coffee...

      We didn't eat out often as kids, because there were six kids and we were all happy with 19¢, no need for anything fancier and more expensive. But when we did do real restaurants, Dad and Mom were always very, very polite to the staff.

    4. And, sorry, but you have a brother who doesn’t know the difference between obscenity and profanity. The Bible is pretty clear on that, as is every high school in America. God doesn’t give a shit about obscenity. She just doesn’t want her name or her kid’s name used as a curse word. Sounds like he’s so busy with church that he doesn’t have time for god. Not a rare malady.

    5. The Googs fucked me 90% through a long comment or, more likely, my phone did. My trusty flip fone worked better. I’ll write when I get work. Buy bonds.


    6. Sorry about the Googs, again and again. Most frustrating, and it eats mine too, sometimes.

      Good point about the obscenities. Fuck the goddess.

      Also, in my comment that should be 19¢ hamburgers, not just 19¢. Nobody's happy with just 19¢.

    7. I was old enough to get the reference. Still am.


    8. Today, Google doesn't know I'm Doug Holland, doesn't think I'm logged in, though I'm logged in. They wouldn't run a search engine the way they run their blogging platform.

      Anyway, I was wondering if you remember Gil's burger stands? There were several locations in Seattle, and possibly elsewhere. I can still remember their standard 19¢ burgers, and that's what I try and fail to replicate every time I burger at home.

      Also I remember they stupidly had the 19¢ sign made of neon. Hard to raise the price. Maybe that's why they went out of business.


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