Upon check in, listen closely as the front desk clerk guest services specialist delivers the good news: The breakfast buffet opens at 7:00 a.m. and you qualify for the free vouchers… but only for the continental side of the buffet … which is the sucky side… and only for two guests and you are family of four. Smile and accept the continental vouchers knowing full well that you are all paying FULL price for the FULL buffet for the FULL family the next morning which equates to $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. Tell 14 year old to look small.
Wake up in shifts the next morning. Have one family member who is up and dressed and ready to eat and one family member who is fast asleep. Stupidly insist that everyone attends the breakfast buffet together, making both the inpatient and the sleeping family members furious for having to wait and wake respectively. Arrive at the buffet in surly moods, which soon turn hopeful as you survey the scene.
Rapidly do a walk through to see what is available, knowing full well that every hotel breakfast buffet is identical with a row of silver chafing pans, glass case of muffins, bagels and pastries, a cereal bar, an iced milk and yogurt station and coffee and juice. Wildcards include the type of breakfast starch being served, the existence of a “chef” making omelets to order, and whether or not the toaster works.
Despite the fact that breakfast for you usually consists of a single bowl of cereal, one plate of eggs, a lone bagel, or a cup of yogurt, have absolutely no qualms about consuming ALL of these items in one sitting, as if your stomach received an urgent memo from your brain to quadruple in size. Your decision is not so much what to eat – but which food you select on first trip vs the subsequent three others to the buffet.
Begin with a glass of juice, mixing grapefruit and orange because you can. Immediately regret starting with the juice because there is no where to place your glass as you load up your plate. Return to table with juice and head back in for food. Deny to yourself that you are walking quickly.
Ponder a made-to-order omelet but wonder if the line – which is one person deep –is too long to wait. While pondering, examine the contents of heart attack row — the hot chafing pans which include scrambled eggs, hash browns, breakfast meat, pancakes/waffles /french toast and biscuits and gravy. Fill your plate with a moderate amount of potatoes and an obscene amount of bacon because this is one of the food that there never seems to be enough of at home. When faced with all you can eat bacon, instinct takes over and you uncontrollably take a dozen pieces. Lie Remark to the stranger behind you that you are “taking bacon for the entire table.” Accidentally slam chafing pan lid on stranger’s fingers.
Take a look at the biscuits and gravy and wonder what insane person would ever eat that shit – let alone for breakfast. As you move onto the omelet station, pass husband who has a plate filled with twelve strips of bacon and the biscuits and gravy.
When it is your turn at the omelet station, appear thoughtful with your choices, as if you were explaining a innovative new recipe idea on Top Chef. “I will have tomatoes…. mushrooms… onions… peppers and (wait for it)…………… cheddar cheese! Look to omelet chef for the approval that is never coming. Note to newbies: Omelet chefs are the surliest “chefs” around and this guy has made this combination at least 50 times that morning. Despite the fact that the omelet will take a good 4 minutes to prepare, remain by the station for fear that the chef will give your customized omelet away to someone else. Hand plate over and watch omelet chef slide your masterpiece onto the plate as best he can given that it is already overrun with potatoes and bacon. Decide that some whole wheat toast would be a healthy addition.
Struggle with tongs at the bread station. When no one is looking, just pick up your whole wheat bread with your hands. If toaster is a rolling oven, thank the Lord and lay your bread on the conveyor but become quickly confused when the toast drops out the bottom really fast. Is this your toast? That was fast! Is it someone elses toast? There is no one around. Take toast and move quickly away to butter station where the butter pats are so frozen solid that you consider running them through the toaster conveyor to get them to soften up. Remember the Hampton Inn incident of 2007 and think better of that plan. Eat toast with large frozen butter pat in the middle.
If the toaster is a regular pop-up brand, consider returning the wheat bread to the glass case but since you already touched it (damn tongs), place it in the toaster for a future diner – in about three days when the toast is finally ready. Consider a muffin. Make note that ALL hotel breakfast buffet muffins look alike. There are no distinguishing features that separate the blueberry from the apple from the corn. They are all very small and very similar. Take three.
Return to your table and immediately have food envy with others in your party (except for the biscuits). Wonder how you possibly missed the make-your-own-waffle station. Take note that on your next trip up, you will make a large waffle. Ask son where he got the whipped cream. The third trip will be something light – like Lucky Charms granola or oatmeal. Refill coffee at least twice to wash everything down.
After consuming your 3rd plate of food, survey the table in front of you. Take notice that your children also made 3 trips to the buffet but they only took two bites of everything. Plates are stacked and immediately reached for your wallet to tip the wait staff who has to clear this mess. Realize that your wallet is up in your room. Wonder if tipping at a buffet is proper etiquette. Promise yourself that you will double tip the next day when you remind yourself to bring cash with you.
Offer to head back to the room to get a jump start on showering with the real reason being that you want to get into the bathroom before the biscuits your husband does. On the way back to your room, grab one last a muffin, a banana and a portable box of cereal – for later. Wonder if the fact that your hands are too full to hit the button on the elevator is a sign from the Universe that gluttony is a sin. Push button with elbow. When arriving at room place banana on shoulder, cereal under chin, and muffin in arm pit to use key card. Vow that the next day you will just do the free continental option and keep that promise. Until you smell the bacon.