A Fish Story

I went to a restaurant with a person. When it came time to order the entrees, the person could not decide between the salmon or the halibut. I suggested a coin flip. “Heads, halibut. Tails salmon,” said the person.

The coin came up tails. The person ordered the salmon, and I did too.

I watched a server approach our table carrying two plates of food. The food on the plates was not the same. Uh-oh. I had been in situations like this with this person before. We were headed for a showdown.

The server sat one of the plates in front of me. On the plate was a warm, beautiful, fragrant collection of foods, including a piece of salmon. As the other plate was being lowered in front of my tablemate, a predictable exclamation was heard:

“This is halibut! I ordered the salmon!” barked the person to the server.

The server bowed. Nervously, and graciously, he said, “Please, yes, I will get your waiter.”

I said, “It’s okay, don’t worry about it, we’ll just trade.”


“Let it slide, dude! Just pretend the server sat the salmon in front of you. Here, give me your plate.” I extended both hands. One to offer a plate, the other to receive.

“No. It’s not right. We should be able get what we ordered.”

This totally tilted me and I got rough. “You’re right,” I said. “This is inexcusable, and heads are going to roll. The first guy we’re taking down is that asshole who brought your food.”

The person would have none of my jocularity. “Hey, it’s not my fault that these people are incompetent.”

“May I remind the court,” I said, “that your food selection was decided by a coin toss. And that you refused to trade plates, thereby establishing as fact that whatever factors may be in play here, none of them are the food.”

I paused to re-establish my authority.

“If you complain when the waiter comes,” I continued, “the effects will be: ONE: a few ruffled feathers in the kitchen, TWO: your tantrum will eventually run its course. If, however, you choose to hold it in and zip it up and put it aside – if you can summon up a “Yes” when the waiter asks, “Is everything okay?” – then that alone would improve the universe. If, however, you can say yes and mean it, then all sentient beings of the universe shall be redeemed and recombined into the primordial gazpacho.”

“Very funny. Okay. I will spare them my wrath.”

“Thank God,” I said. “All I really wanted was to start eating.”

“Not so fast. My fish looks nasty.” The person slid the halibut toward me. “I’ll take that salmon now.”


  • pal sport Posted September 4, 2009 11:49 am

    Good story. Next time just order the primordial gazpacho, and sit at a different table. Never trust people who treat the service-folk badly.

  • pal sport Posted September 4, 2009 2:34 pm

    Gazpacho is a dish best served like revenge.

  • Wacky Posted September 11, 2009 9:54 am

    Nice story. Gave me a good chuckle on a Friday morning.

  • Wayne Lively Posted September 11, 2009 11:03 am

    For the record, it was not me who caused this ruckus. I wouldn’t order either, as Texans tend more to meat on a hoof than on a fin.

    Funny story, Tommy.

  • Paul Posted September 15, 2009 11:02 am

    Wow – what a story! 🙂

  • Dave Posted September 22, 2009 7:59 pm

    Great story, again. Loved it. I appreciate that you can tell a genuinely funny story and still somewhat deep and insightful lesson in so few words. A true “short story”

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