My Sheldon Moment

It’s not like I eat at a certain pizza place every week. But I go there often enough that I have an established and happy routine. I know what I’m going to order (two slices, not too crispy around the edges, please). I know what I’m going to drink (a fountain Diet Coke with a splash of regular Coke in it).

And I know where I’m going to sit: I’m going to take the table near the window, to the right of the door. Sure, there have been weeks when I’ve arrived and found someone else occupying my spot. I’ve always handled this circumstance with dignity and grace. I take the high table by the other window. If the same people are still at my table when I leave, I discreetly leave them a card that explains the scale of their error. Simple.

Today, though, I took two steps into the pizza place and I froze. What I saw made no sense whatsoever.

I should mention that the dining area is laid out with a row of high tables on one side and a row of low tables on the other. Well, after years of operation, they’d gone insane and switched them. As if that weren’t bad enough, the refrigerated beverage case had been moved to the other side of the prep counter, next to the fountain dispensers.

I won’t lie to you: it freaked me out a little. I had entered the Bizarro Mirror Universe version of the pizza place. I expected the counterstaff to all be wearing little goatees.

(Actually, many of them already did. But maybe I expected them to be shaved into clear Evil Mirror Universe goatees, and for the girl at the register to goad one of the cooks into battling me to the death with pizza paddles to win her favor.)

I was having a true Sheldon Moment. I couldn’t come up with any credible reason why the sudden change to this familiar layout bothered me. Yet I found myself wanting to tell the person at the register “But that’s not where those tables go. Why would you do that?” in a calm but very firm voice.

Instead, I complimented them on doing something outlandish and bizarre to create an upsetting “Haunted House”-style effect for Halloween. “But seriously: when can I expect you to have everything put back the right way?” I asked. Their answer was noncommittal at best.

My pizza was getting cold. I thought long and hard and ultimately decided that “low table” was more critical to my routine than “…on the right side of the dining area.” I wasn’t happy about it, mind you. But I will continue to give them my patronage. This speaks well of me.

It speaks slightly less-well of me that I posted an anonymous one-star review to Yelp entitled “The tables are now completely in the wrong places. Why would they even do that?” as soon as I got home.

24 thoughts on “My Sheldon Moment”

  1. The three tined forks at Olive Garden still bug me! Luckily nothing that earth shattering has happened at any of my usual haunts. I have a routine at the place I go to for my Gyro, my order (since I’ve settled on the Gyro) is the Gyro and greek salad with a Coke, always. I look at the menu but nothing ever sounds better than my Gyro.

  2. I have had moments like this. When you go to a place often enough that the staff pretty much knows what you’re going to order as soon as they walk in the door, it’s almost justifiable to be irked when a major change is made without your consultation. Of course, I have enough presence of mind to realize that the place is their business (and, frankly, their life) not mine. But, still…

  3. CDO = OCD, in alphabetical order.

    You’re a sick man, A.I.

    I like that in a tech journalist, though. (That’s why I also read John Gruber, I guess.)

  4. Maybe just maybe the tables hadn’t been moved but perhaps they cleverly turned the building and moved the door so that it only appeared as though they rearranged the room. Clever those guys!

  5. …very similar to the feelings I experienced when one morning I opened the top draw off my dresser to discover my wife had changed the location of my underwear, t-shirts and socks, to a lower draw to accommodate her short stature. This after 26 years of tippy toe top draw stocking…it literally took me weeks to get used to the idea of my BVD’s residing at waist level, which in the real world makes perfect sense.

  6. Reading this entry, I had the ‘fight theme’ from Star Trek immediately stuck in my head as I pictured Andy and the pizza guy circling around the joint, the pizza guy’s apron cut off at the midriff to allow easy access to his dagger.
    Dun dun DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN dun dundun dun da.

  7. This is the stuff ruined days are made of. I fully empathize with this experience. You know, in your gut, that you’re a wackadoo for feeling that way… yet you still feel it!

  8. One of my favorite bkfst spots changed even more dramatically. I loved that they piled pounds of great food on a plate at just the right time of day! There was always a counter spot (my style). The rest of the day’s food I could do without.

    A while back I walked in hoping for eggs and cakes and sausage and fried taters and toast… As I entered, I saw tables shoved to one side, stools gone, and a man in back said, we’re not open anymore. I thought to myself why would anyone not be able to keep a great spot like this open. On leaving I realized that others probably felt the same as do about their other meals, but never came to breakfast.

  9. They probably had a Focus Group and decided that they needed to change their business model to increase slice sales and to take advantage of the beverage “Halo Effect”.

  10. I know intellectually that change is good, and it’s gonna happen, but I understand… it’s like when one day you get in the car to go to work and the radio station you love has now changed their format completely and its unrecognizable and I sit there and am just shocked into immobility… especially when they never asked ME if I cared! :)

  11. Yep, I feel the same way. Every six months someone at the Trader Joe’s near me gets the “brilliant” idea to rearrange the store and it really throws me off. I hate it. All I want to do is get in, get my stuff and go. I don’t want to have to re-learn the store’s layout.

  12. Love the diet coke with a splash of coke mix, I thought only I did that. When in Doylestown in November, visit Jules for some great pizza, just the way you like. I’ll take you…

  13. @TS – Yes, isn’t that the great boon of this new (-ish) “Let the customer pour his own drink” policy at many eateries? The first time I realized that I could really mix up anything I wanted…that’s when I knew real power.

  14. This is about the window controls being arranged vertically in iTunes 10, isn’t it? Fine. Mock me if you must. They’re just… unsettling.

  15. Imagine leaving the country for only a few years and having your local sandwich shop raised to the ground and then rebuilt into a whole new fully fledged restaurant with actual waitresses. I still have trouble entering the building despite the fantastic staff and great food.

  16. Great amusing post! I think everyone can empathise with that feeling. I’ve had the ‘stop and stare in horror’ at a change before! In the Uk the only place you get to pour your own drinks is in Costco… We don’t know what true power is here….

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