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My most memorable New Year’s Eve – A wonderful time with strangers

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.

Say what?!

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!

Related:

35 New Year Traditions to Bring You Luck From Around the World

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Les
18 days ago

“Date Night” with Steve Correl and Tina Fey.

Tommy Molnar
18 days ago

In a very popular pizza restaurant in downtown Chicago, we would wait in line for our “table for two”. There were very few “tables for two” and we soon learned that the ‘ticket’ to getting a table in under two hours was to start talking to other couples in line and upgrade to a table for four. Bingo, we’d get a table in fairly short order. Met a lot of cool people that way, with one couple still friends after 45 years.

Barnjai
18 days ago

What a great story!

Leonard Rempel
18 days ago

I don’t get how this couple is “celebrated” here. They jumped their fair spot in line and lied about who they are. I would have simply waited for the restaurant to pass on the “Carter’s” name and waited for my rightful turn.
Hmmm, I guess Canadians like me just will never understand this type of behaviour.

Dan
18 days ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

Soooo, I wonder. Did the real Carters get seated that night? I’m with you, treat people the way you’d like to be treated.

T G
18 days ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

Ditto. But you don’t have to be Canadian to feel this was. Same with us Texans. Maybe it was just the author’s license with the story.

Ellen L
18 days ago
Reply to  Leonard Rempel

That was not right to “be the Carters.” One time we were taking my elderly (and frail) Mother out to dinner and someone took our spot. It was only because we asked the hostess that we found out we had “already been seated.” Please, people, don’t do that.

Lisa Adcox
18 days ago

We shared a dining table for a whole week on a cruise with two other couples. Very interesting experience. One couple were retired Travel agents. They told us ways to save money on the excursions at ports plus what some of the unusual foods were we were offered. The other couple were a young couple from England who was sailing for two weeks. The lady was sea sick most the time and even worse she was allergic to the meds they gave her for sea sickness. The husband went with us on a few excursions so not to be going alone. We actually kept up with them for awhile till 9/11 when he lost his job due to his companies main offices being there. They moved and we lost contact. We shared bottles of wine with each other and had a wonderful time the whole week. Was fun meeting others you would of never met by choosing to dine with complete strangers.

Megan Edwards
18 days ago
Reply to  Lisa Adcox

Why I like the breakfasts in the dining room while on cruises. You meet different people every day.

Lisa Adcox
18 days ago
Reply to  Megan Edwards

We only had same dinner partners at evening meal. Love the buffet in mornings. We also found other couples to split taxi rides with to do excursions on our own. Way cheaper and did all the same things. Met some nice people.

Jeff
18 days ago

We’ve shared meals with strangers a number of times. Usually while standing in a buffet line we’ll strike up a conversation and that moves to sitting together. Have met some wonderful people during our travels. Sometimes people turn down the invitation to join us, but often people seem to like company.