I discovered something about myself last night: I would not make a good traffic cop.
“What does that have to do with the Party of One?” you ask. Nothing, except that our plan to meet at La Carreta in Nashua backfired since the helpful fill-in hostess who took my reservation for 14 in the morning was unaware that the restaurant does not take reservations on weekends. Then there was the whole issue of parking. There was none—even if we had been willing to wait an hour to be seated. And we weren’t.
Since my husband and I had arrived early enough to discover all this before any of our fellow Party of One-ers showed up, we took a quick trip down the street to IHOP. Known more for international cuisine than Mexican, the place had plenty of room at 6:00 p.m. The manager Michael (who is the most pleasant person we’ve encountered in a restaurant to date) was happy to accommodate our big party with only a half hour notice.
Now all we had to do was drive back to La Carreta and wait for the Party of One-ers to arrive and direct them to our change in venue. No problem, right? Wrong. First of all, most of them were arriving in separate cars; and I had no idea what kind of cars to look for.
“Why didn’t you call them?” you ask. Good question. I’ve got a good answer, too. I didn’t have their cell numbers. (Note: I was duly lectured on that and have taken measures to correct it.)
Back to my being a bad traffic cop.
My husband parked at one end of the lot and stayed in the car as a lookout. I got out. My job was to cover the restaurant door and three connecting parking lots watching for familiar faces (and look for a few new ones)—in the dark.
It might have worked if I had stood still. Instead, I walked back and forth in front of the block of stores, missing a few who escaped my notice and got inside the restaurant door.
Then I began to notice that cars were stalking me. Mistaking me for a satisfied customer leaving the restaurant, they were coveting my parking space. While explaining my situation to these desperate-for-Mexican diners, I blocked traffic and missed a few more Party of One-ers.
Dodging cars, I wove in and out of parking lot traffic, peering in windows trying to intercept our Party of One-ers. It was merely a few that I frightened. But once I recounted my long saga, they promised not to press charges if I would just go away.
In the end, my husband the “lookout” who sat still in his car caught more people than I did. Most of the Party of One-ers found me before I found them. We finally left for IHOP a half hour later, the last member of our party accounted for.