by Dave from NY, NY – ArchWired Reader
There I was, Monday, day 4 of my treatment. Braces are on and I’m dreading the first official meal in public with some co-workers who can best be described as barracudas. As background, equity traders are not usually the people you go to for comfort. They’re tough, blunt, and they prey on the weakness of others. The first few days had been hard enough acclimating to the braces within the confines of my apartment.
Monday morning was the time to face the music and just get it over with. From early on in the day, the word of my having braces spread like wildfire, faster than news about Alan Greenspan deciding to make a surprise move of short term rates…. Most people within earshot made a big deal about my new wires and how I looked so cute. It was brutal to endure, but I honestly expected worse. I think it was Wendy who suggested the diner. I’m thinking to myself that there will be an abundance of food choices at the diner. Surely there would be time to come up with an entrée that would be soft on the sensitive teeth, free of a lot of green particles such as salad, and delicious as well. I decide on the cheese omelet. What could possibly be in there other than eggs and cheese?
Fortunately, my coworkers get into discussion political matters. As the big egos clash, I think how lucky I am that my braces are not in the limelight. I had strategically sat at the end of the booth so that I could focus my defense on one side of my mouth, say very little, and have quick access to the restrooms. George lashes out at – ironically – George W. and the free for all begins.
The meal goes quickly. Finally, the young waitress comes by to give us the check. She drops it on the table and turns to leave. But she hesitates and turns back. She looks directly at me and LOUDLY says “Hun, why don’t you do us all a favor and please clean out your grill?!” It took me a few seconds to realize that I had been shot. My face turned purple in the way that only a fair-skinned Irishman’s can. The ensuing silence was brutal and I could HEAR people smiling at the other end of the table, mouthing the words “OUCH” to themselves.
I could then hear people turning from OTHER tables to see who was the recipient of that knockout blow. Then came the mocking laughter. My colleagues were so excited to have suddenly been “reminded” about my handicap that they just piled on, asking me if by “grill” the waitress was referring to a Ford or Chevy variety.
When the dust settled, here’s what I determined: 1) The wheat toast – to my horror – tends to cake in ones wires, particularly if one has no experience with the sort of damage that food can do on braces. (Up until this meal, jello and soup had been about as adventurous as I had become). Besides, I’m now better at “self cleaning” and know when to use the restroom mirror…. 2) Truly brutal coworkers will regale others of these “Classic” stories on a daily basis. 3) While I can usually give as good as I get, the thought of lashing out with who-knows-what in my teeth was horrifying and likely worse than just absorbing the verbal blow. 4) My coworkers – upon seeing my humiliation – gave the wonderful waitress a HUGE tip (30%). Kind of like: Club Sandwich, $8; Milkshake, $2, Humiliating Dave, “Priceless.”
I now look back and am glad that it happened. Suffice to say, there was no chapter in my “What to Expect When You Get Braces” brochure that talks about how to deal with matters such as these!