My husband and I rarely go out on New Year’s Eve. We much prefer staying home. But one New Year’s Eve we were adventurous – by our standards anyway – and decided on a whim to get Chinese food. There was a restaurant not far from our home and we wanted to “do something nice for ourselves” after surviving a particularly hectic Christmas season with our three small (and very active) children. The memories of that one New Year’s Eve are repeated and embellished and recollected each year as we flip the page on the Old Year and brace for the New Year to come. You’ll see why soon enough…
It was a cold and stormy night…
We arrived at the restaurant to discover that our bright idea was shared by thousands of other folks. (It wasn’t actually thousands. It just seemed like it.) The night was bitterly cold with a powerful north wind that gusted inside the food establishment’s “holding area” every time the door opened. We were some of the lucky ones who waited inside the restaurant. Not so lucky was the fact that we were mashed together with other hungry folks who’d also been told, “20 minutes wait.”
The wait to be seated
We waited and waited. It may have been close to an hour of up-close-and-personal waiting when the hostess finally called a name. “Party of four. Carter! Your table is ready.” An immediate hush fell over the famished crowd as we waited to see who the lucky group might be. “Carter! Party of four. Your table is ready!” You could have heard a pin drop. That’s when the couple squeezed in next to us whispered, “Want to be the Carters?” Hubby and I nodded an excited “Yes!” and quickly followed the couple into the restaurant.
Getting to know you
Dining with a couple we didn’t know became an enjoyable adventure. We were guided to a lovely table with a view where we introduced ourselves and talked in generalities. We laughed about the “never-ending 20-minute wait” and shared a joke or two as we ordered.
As the food arrived, we asked the couple about themselves. What a surprise! The woman, a very petite person, smiled and said, “Oh, I’m a steam roller operator.” Hubby and I almost choked on our Kung Pao! This woman could not have stood more than 4 foot 9 inches tall! She weighed little more than our lettuce wraps! We tried, but could not imagine that she drove a steam roller for a living!
Not to be outdone, her husband spoke up. “She only works in the summer, so I make ice cubes in our basement.” Huh? That’s a job? Yes. Yes, it is! You see, he’d perfected the shape and size of plastic ice cubes. Then he rented them out to companies who needed ice for filming commercials. “My cubes are so realistic; you’d never guess they’re plastic. Real ice cubes melt and change shapes. My plastic ice cubes have been used in many commercials for soft drinks, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.” Well, slap my head and call me silly! I had no idea!
Still wondering about that couple
To this day we wonder several things: Were these people really the “Carters?” Or were they, like us, just too hungry to pass up an opportunity? Did the teensy, tiny gal really operate an actual steam roller in the summer? And can you actually make a living by hand-crafting plastic ice cubes? I mean, really? Were Hubby and I hoodwinked by this cute couple? We’ll never know, I guess. We never saw our “dinner dates” again, but their memory lives on. That’s for sure!
How about you?
Have you ever shared a meal with strangers? Or known anyone with a highly unusual job? Share your experiences in the comments below or over on my forum! I look forward to hearing from you!