Friday, September 05, 2008

A Political Pause

I am going to take a brief break from the TV Preview posts to relate a brief observational interlude that I had the other night.

Thursday was Grace's first day of Kindergarten. She has been very excited about the day for many, many weeks now and was counting down each day with fervor. That morning she was very proud to be riding in the van and walking through the doors at the elementary school rather than riding with Hannah to the daycare. It helped that she had Sarah to lead her to her classroom, but she didn't look back to me as she exited the van and never hesitated on her long journey to adult independence.

But, as nice as that was, this story isn't entirely about Grace--though Grace is the reason for the story.

You see, we decided to celebrate Grace's milestone by going out to dinner that night. And if we're going out to dinner, that usually means Bob Evans. (It didn't hurt that we had Kids Meal coupons from our recent visits to the Zoo.) Unfortunately, I experienced some marginal table service while we were there, but that contributed to the story as much as Grace's Kindergarten initiation.

While I waited for my fish sandwich to be correctly plated, I began to listen to a group of six people that were sitting directly behind me. I had not paid any attention to them when they entered the restaurant, but lacking any food to eat, I began to eavesdrop on their discussion.

What first caught my attention was their drink orders. One person asked for water, ice, and no lemon. No big deal. But the next person asked for water, no lemon, and no ice. The third person asked for iced tea and all the lemon the other two had not wanted. I don't mention all this to say that they were being difficult or anything. I just began to think that there were likely to be disappointed in their drink accuracy, since the waitress was the same one that had failed to understand my original entree order and was slow in getting it fixed. So, I was worried for this other table in advance. 

Soon, I got my food and the waitress moved on to get the next table's food orders. This proved to be more complicated than the drinks. One man asked for a chicken salad sandwich--but apparently hadn't examined the menu to see if it was actually offered. The waitress was unsure if that was the case and warned the patron that this might lead to disappointment. The other table mates made their varying orders and the waitress went off to the kitchen and to investigate the likelihood of the chicken salad sandwich.

(Now, I must say that you might find it strange that a restaurant might not have a chicken salad sandwich, something that is a fairly common food item across the country. But, in Bob Evans slight defense, they typically feature chicken salad platters and sandwiches during the summer months. And since football was currently being played in Ohio, the mind said that summer was over.)

I bring up all this falderal about drink and food orders to get to the real point that I was beginning to suspect that this group of restaurant goers were not locals and were more than simply your regular out-of-towners. You see, during the course of my eavesdropping, I heard them mention cities and towns in Pennsylvania as well as Florida. All pretty normal, except that we are in the midst of a presidential election year and three of the important swing states now and forevermore are Ohio (where we were sitting), Pennsylvania, and Florida. 

I began to think that these people were party of either the Obama or the McCain campaign staff--not significant staff certainly, but some of the faceless cogs in the machine that swarms the country getting the local pulse and seeing how people are polling. It was, after all, the night of McCain's acceptance speech and the night after VP-candidate Palin's speech. I couldn't really get a sense as to whether they were Obamaniacs or McCainiacs . . . and I wasn't about to turn around and ask. But the significant swing state name drops and the efforts to complicate the ordering process suggested to me that these people were maybe from way-out-of-town.

I got a look at them when I got up to go pay the check. There was nothing outwardly evident to support my guesses--no straw hats, political buttons, or constant cell phone calls. I suppose I could have been completely wrong about the whole affair, but it was a fun diversion.

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