“Nooooo, they didn’t forget their jackets, they just went to get more food, and they will be coming back!”
This is the thought that went through both our heads, behind our pale faces, as we sat at our table in an upscale Tapas restaurant in Barcelona. It had a beautiful interior, lots of art, and a self-service counter where you could simply pick a tapas plate that looked good and bring it back to your table.
There were about ten tables occupied in our area.
We were midway through our dinner, enjoying it immensely, when the young couple sitting at the table next to us got up to leave. On their table, they left a small amount of wine in their glasses. They also left a single, particularly delicious-looking piece of toasted bread on a small plate in the middle of their table.
Being raised the way we were, we rarely leave such a small amount of food and drink at the end of a meal, we finish it all. Their carelessness seemed like a bit of a waste. So Frank, never one to be particularly shy, reached over and took the piece of bread from their table. He broke off a piece, popped it into his mouth and put the rest on his plate with a sheepish grin. I was shocked and embarrassed, but it seemed harmless and nobody in the restaurant appeared to have noticed, so I let it pass. At least he hadn’t taken their wine!
Then, after just a few seconds, this was our simultaneous thought process:
- Oh, look, the guy left his jacket on his chair! Maybe we should try to catch them and give him his jacket back.
- Oh, the woman’s jacket is on her chair too!
- Noooo! They haven’t left at all! They just went back to the bar to get more food!
- We have just stolen the one piece of bread conspicuously left on their table and eaten part of it. What are we going to do now?
- We looked at each other with horror on our faces, Frank still tasting the garlic flavor in his mouth.
With lightening speed and without discussion, Frank quickly took the piece of bread from his plate and gingerly placed it back on their table, only slightly diminished from its prior attractive toasty peak.
Ack! I couldn’t handle the scene anymore, so I went to the men’s room, like a coward, to get away from what I was sure would be a huge scene once one of the other diner’s reported the theft, partial consumption and repatriation.
When I got back to the table, the couple had yet to return and all seemed calm. Nobody in the restaurant was giving us the stink eye. Frank was so calm, he even took a picture of the restored bread while I was away.
They did come back. We stayed tensely still. All went smoothly and undetected. We felt sheepish. And then we found it hard to stop laughing.
Later, Frank, again the bolder of us two, engaged the unsuspecting victims in conversation. They were a delightful young couple visiting from Germany. They were sweet and fun, and they spoke good English.
We were relieved the scene had passed.
To show I had a little nerve too, I snapped a picture of Frank, the culprit, with the nice German couple in the background.