Traffic Jam!

Traffic Jam!
Taken Sunday September 14, 2014 with Samsung Galaxy S3

This is what I get for complaining about losing against Ruby in cribbage. I don’t know where her luck (er… talent?) comes from, but after winning my second game in about 8 1/2 years (!!!) against her a couple of weeks ago, I was very disgruntled tonight to see that she’s back on her winning streak.

Or I’m back on my losing streak.

It’s difficult to say which it is, because I don’t think either of us has played crib with anybody else but each other in all of that time. Regardless, “disgruntled” is a kind word for what I felt after tonight’s game.

I was pissed.

I told her that, too, and as I went into the living room to change the channel on the television to the classics station to be ready for our 8 o’clock movie, I threw a few words over my shoulder at her, ending with, “Why can’t you find a game we can play that I actually have a chance of winning?!”

When I came back into the kitchen, she had the game in the above photo on the table.

Well! We nearly missed the movie all together. I started with one of the set-ups from an “easy” card. I managed that puzzle alright, but the next couple… I would have solved them on my own… eventually… but Ruby never gave me the chance. The second I paused for thought, her hand would zoom over the grid and Zip! Zap! she’d have that little red car out of the jam and on the table and be laughing at me.

Finally, I gave up in disgust, and we watched our movie. Have you ever seen “The Old Maid” with Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins? Don’t. Not that it’s not a good movie, because it is – but by the time you get to the end of it, you’ll just want to throttle EVERYBODY.

Afterward, we had our coffee and dessert, and Ruby got laughing over the Traffic Jam game again. “How do you still think that fast?” I asked her. “You’re 89 years old; you’re supposed to be addle-brained by now!”

She laughed again, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ve always liked puzzling things out.”

“I imagine it’s because you had to be so quick on your feet and still out-think everybody else when you had the restaurant.” I said.

A-HA! You didn’t know Ruby owned a restaurant, did you? In fact, she owned several restaurants over the years – one she owned twice. Couldn’t seem to get rid of it, she says. And to celebrate the “soonish” unveiling of the second of The Ruby Chronicles: The Restaurant, the Romance and the Speak-Easy, I’m going to tell the very first “Really Ruby” restaurant story. “The Egg Story”.

Oh, now, I wouldn’t compare the trials of running that restaurant with these silly puzzles, no sir! For one thing, these are fun, even if they do drive me a little nuts sometimes. Restaurant troubles were maddening, but I wouldn’t call them ‘puzzles’, not even the puzzling ones. [laughs and claps her hands together]

I never seemed to have little problems, either. They were always the worst thing that could happen at the worst possible time – and I’d have to figure a way around it.

Like those eggs, that time…

[Ruby paused here for a bit. I’m starting to think she does it for dramatic effect, but maybe she’s just trying to think of where to jump in. Generally, I have to prod her to start up again…]

Me: What about the eggs? Did you break a big bunch of eggs? You did, didn’t you? [I was thinking of all trays of glassware I’d broken during my own restaurant days…]

No, I didn’t break a bunch of eggs! That probably would have been a better thing to happen considering, but no… I was nearly out of eggs that morning, because my new shipment hadn’t come in yet. They were late, and I was starting to get nervous. The restaurant was right full of people! I think there must have been a tour bus come through unexpected, and I was pret’near beside myself trying to keep up with all the orders, and here I was down to my last flat of eggs. You know what I mean by ‘a flat of eggs’, don’t you?

A flat of eggs is 15 dozen, and that’s all I had left. I had 27 breakfast orders in, and figured I could get through okay, as long another bus didn’t pull up, but I tell you everybody and his brother wanted eggs for breakfast that morning, so it was gonna be close. When I cracked the first egg from that flat onto the griddle- well! I never knew a more rotten egg, let me tell you!

Now that was an aggravation, but it’s not like it never happened before, so I wasn’t gonna make a stink about it. [She had to pause here and laugh at her unintended joke for a bit]

But then I cracked the next egg, and it was gone over, too! Can you believe that every darn egg in that flat was rotten?! Every single one! And me there with 27 breakfast orders in and a bus-load of tourists trying to keep a schedule! And no more eggs to be had in the whole place!

Me: Oh my God! What’d you do?

Well, I turned to Roy (her husband, who ran the gift shop attached to the restaurant, but helped Ruby out during the busy times) and I said, “You get up to the grocery and buy every egg they got!” and then I set the girls to cleaning up the mess and getting the rest of the meals in order.

The butter tarts were just coming out of the oven as Roy was coming in the back door with the eggs, so I set him to packing them up in boxes while I finally got those 27 breakfasts out. They were a little late, but everybody was happy I think. More so, when they all got a free butter tart and a coffee-to-go to take back on the bus when they left.

Me: So Roy didn’t trip and drop all the eggs on his way in the back door, then?

No, he did not! And it’s a darn good thing he didn’t ‘cuz I think I woulda just sat down and cried if he had.

I’ve had nightmares about that restaurant every now and again since I finally got out of the business, but none of those nightmares was as bad as that day. I’ve had worse days, too, if you can believe that, but we’ll have to save those for another night. I’m done in…

I’m picturing the panic and scramble in the kitchen that day, and a younger Ruby barreling around, shouting orders and making everything right. And then, once it all calmed down, passing out free coffee and fresh, home-made butter tarts. I’ll bet they were the best part of breakfast for all those people that day.

She still makes those butter tarts. I always get a few of them, and I don’t have to pay for them ever.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Jump Around” – House of Pain

%d bloggers like this: