Anger widened over his black, sweat-dripping face. “How long must we wait before we get our meals, until hell freezes over?!” He asked as calmly as he could. The lady over the counter just stared back at him, not knowing how to respond to his legitimate complaints. We had been at the eatery for about forty-five minutes, and still we hadn’t been served our meals. We could have easily gone somewhere else to have lunch that Saturday afternoon, but Tony had already paid for the meals that we were yet to eat. It was how they operated there, customers paid before they ate, and we understood that, I mean, that’s how it’s done in other over-the-counter kind of eateries.
Tony was losing his patience with the lady over the counter, who tried to fake a smile as she said “Your meal will be ready shortly Sir, we are processing a lot of orders from other tables too”. Tony looked behind him and did a quick count of the tables that were occupied in the eatery. Of course her excuse was inappropriate as there were only four tables occupied and two of them had already received their orders of confectionaries and drinks that were readily available and on display at the sales point. We later discovered that they were out of cooked meals that we had ordered for, but instead of letting us know about the situation, they collected payment and preferred us to wait till cocks grew teeth for them to prepare the meal we had ordered for.
“I want a refund”. Tony said to the lady over the counter. “Please wait…”
“I am not waiting one minute longer here, give me my money back!”, Tony cut her off before she could finish her statement.
“I’m sorry but I am not permitted to do that Sir”.
“Young lady, don’t try my patience. I’ve been very calm with you all along, but don’t push it okay. Give me my money back!”.
“Please understand, it’s company policy”. At this point I sensed things were ready to blow out ot of control. I got up from the seat at the table where I had been, all along watching things play out. I walked up to him and grabbed him by the hand and said, “It’s okay honey, lets go”.
“No way Maggie, I’m not leaving here without my money”. He turned back to face the lady over the counter and said, “I want to see the manager in charge of this place”.
“But Sir, that won’t be necessary”.
“Don’t tell me what is or what isn’t necessary! I want to see your manager!”
I wish we had left at this point. Tony and I. We, perhaps, would still be together now. But we didn’t leave and we are not together right now.
The manager obviously heard Tony demanding to see who was in charge. Tony was really pissed off and was raising his voice at the lady over the counter. I had not seen him like that before, this was surely a first. I’m sure if he hadn’t come along with me, he would have walked out of the eatery without asking for a refund or the food. He was such a gentleman and didn’t like unnecessary confrontation. But that day at the eatery was different. He knew I was really hungry and trust Tony to do everything to make me comfortable. He didn’t have much cash on him left at that point. He had spent so much at the boutique where he bought some really beautiful clothes for me.
A door opened at the left side behind the counter and a young lady walked out. She looked very beautiful in her black skirt suit and high heeled shoes. She didn’t have much make-up on yet she was very attractive. She was about my height and had black hair that rested on her shoulders. “What’s the problem Angela?” She asked the lady over the counter.
“Everything is the problem, everything. From your company’s service delivery to your customer relations.” Tony cut in.
“Would you mind coming into my office so we could straighten things out?”, She said. I noticed how Tony seemed to calm down as soon as we stepped into her office but I didn’t take that seriously. “My name is Seun and I own this place. Please sit down”. We talked for a while and we realised that she was the daughter to the Minister of Agriculture. The eatery was just one of her several business outfits that she was in charge of. She was in Lagos for the weekend and she decided to come check up on her eatery. After chatting for a while, we left there with several take away packs and her contact details. Tony was particularly excited about this, he understood how the encounter would improve his business chances. He worked in the marketing department of a bank and needed as many political contacts as possible, so that they could help him meet the target set for him by his bank.
That was how she came into our lives. How was I to know that that was just the beginning of the end of Tony and I?