I’ve never worked in customer service – and, more specifically, would definitely avoid ever being a waiter. This is a job that requires excellent social skills, having rapport with strangers, and possessing a more-than-decent memory. And none of these things applies to me.  So, here’s a question: do wait staff ever have competitions to pass the time and make quiet days less boring?

It seems like they have to, right?

During our recent road trip, we stopped at Ruby Tuesday’s (Roadtrip Food Rules were very much in force). After spending a little time there, and maybe being one of three or four tables actually in use, my wife developed a theory.

The food is…OK at best. It’s Chilie’s with a different paint job. And it’s practically empty. The server asks us roughly 570 times if we like our food. How’s your food?  What do you think of your food? And our basic review of the food would be: it’s not good. There’s actual cake and I can’t finish it because it’s just a terrible waste of (a lot of) calories. But every time we’re asked, our answer is a surprisingly enthusiastic: “Great!”

My wife’s theory is that the kids who work there are playing a game. Every time they can get a customer to admit the food isn’t in fact GREAT, then they get a point. Is that something that happens? I’m going to say yes. I suspect they don’t get as many points as they should.

Thanks to David Sedaris, the travel time flies by (don’t ask my wife if that’s true from a driver’s POV) and soon we’re on a crazy set of roads in and around St. Louis. First reaction: they have a lot of tall chimneys in St. Louis. Mostly around the brewery, it’s true. But it is striking. Does that count as a #HotTake? We saw the arch from a distance…so there was that as well. As a team, we managed the pile of spaghetti that was the St. Louis road system, and headed on our way.

Then, finally, we hit Illinois. Hello, Illinois! Our first stop after we unpacked at the clean-and-anonymous chain hotel was to a Walmart (Road-Trip Rules…extended) for supplies: a toothbrush, a bottle of vodka, and a power chord for my wife’s laptop. At the checkout, she asked the teen behind the counter if she wanted her ID – because, you know, booze.

“Do you want to show me your ID?” the young lady asked, carefully.

“She does,” I said. “Very much.” Because people like to pretend other people think they don’t look old enough to legally buy booze.

“Go ahead then!” The young lady’s fake enthusiasm was impressive.

My wife passed her driver’s license across. And unlike some teens in this scenario, this teen paid attention to the date. “Wow, you don’t look that old.”

Which, you know, is a compliment of sorts.

“Good response,” I said. “They’ve trained you well!”

“No, she really doesn’t,” the excellently trained young lady said. She turned to my wife, “You really don’t.” We left, because flustering hard-working teens in Walmart is not how we get our thrills. Yet.

We did, instead, agree to give her an #Illinois2018 travel award. And this blog post is dedicated to her.

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