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When Fish Fly

Today my wife & I witnessed a gentleman experience a melt down.   We had taken our lawn mower to True Value Hardware on 63rd St. in West Des Moines to be repaired.  Next door to True Value is a Long John Silvers restaurant.

longjohns It was lunch time and we were on our way to the grocery store and you know you aren’t supposed to go to the grocery store hungry.  It was a typical Sunday early afternoon activity in our household.

Neither of us had been to Long Johns for some time, so it sounded like a good plan.  As we walked in, there were a few customers.  A family with 3 boys that had just gotten finished with a soccer game.  Another couple with their young grandchild.  And then there was a single man sitting in a booth next to the front window.  We placed our order and sat down behind him.  He had one of those cards with a number on it indicating that his order was still being prepared.

Within a couple of minutes, out came our food.  Our neighbor was still waiting for his meal.  As soon as the employee walked back to the counter from bringing us our meal, the man stood up and approached the order counter.  He began to yell at the young man that he had been waiting for 15 minutes for his food!  Fortunately, they had just finished preparing his order and handed it to him.  He stomped back to his table.

That’s when the fireworks began.  Anyone that has been to a Long John Silvers knows that they keep bottles of vinegar on each table for the fish.  Something was wrong with the bottle on his table, so he got up and went to the next table and picked up another one.  From what I can tell, this bottle must have done something to really make him angry… the cap must have stuck, or maybe there was tarter sauce on the bottle, but whatever it was, it was enough to put this guy over the edge.


This man began speaking a string of obscenities that would make a sailor blush!  Then as everyone watched the meltdown, he threw his food across his booth and into the two empty booths in front of him.  I thought for a moment that I was at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle!  (Without the swearing of course)

It was like slow motion.  Nobody wanted to believe what they were seeing or hearing.  As quickly as it happened, he stomped out of the restaurant muttering something about never coming back to “this place” ever again.  (Was that a promise?)

We finished our meal and watched as the manager and another employee cleaned up the mess.  The manager went to each of the tables with customers and apologized for what had happened.  What else could he say to customers that witnessed such an outburst?  I replayed the event in my mind and wondered what would have happened if I or another patron had engaged the man.  In years past, perhaps someone would have said something.  Today, we just sat and watched as one man blew up and threw his food.  We will go back to Long Johns again someday.

captbell As we walked out of the building, I had to stop and take this picture.  I can’t be certain, but if the bell wasn’t missing before the man stormed out, it would have probably ended up in the parking lot.

I said a quiet little “Ding” to myself as I snapped the picture and headed to my car.

We were off to the grocery store… no stories to be told there.

~ Les

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