A mound of rice sat on the plate, looking quite embarrassed. As if it knew that everyone was staring at it. It suddenly blushed.

It had reason to feel a bit silly because it had been caught in the wrong company. On the plate next to the mound of rice were two halves of a chap.

No, there was nothing else on the plate. Just rice and chap.

The customer had sent it back to the kitchen, after throwing one of the most spectacular bitch fits the restaurant which sees spectacular bitch fits on a fairly frequent basis had seen in months. “What the hell has my mother got to do with any of this?” Belinda had wondered as she carried the plate back to Boss in the kitchen.

Rice and chap.

“It makes no sense. How can anyone order rice and chap?” Bosco’s lower lip hung loose like a wet leaf in the rain when he asked himself rhetorical questions.

“He says he didn’t.”

“Then how did this…”

“It seems kind of obvious when you think about it,” Belinda answered. The circumstances surrounding this event were perfectly conducive for the creation of this unlikely pairing, so conducive in fact, as to eliminate all the unlikeliness of the pairing altogether and make it an almost inevitable conclusion.

“Brenda took the order.”

To put it politely, Brenda was not very intelligent. It had been observed that when she had too much to think about, when, say, four customers made orders at once and she had to memorise them, her head would sway slightly on her neck, rocking back and forth as if it had suddenly become much heavier and was about to fall off.

Normally, if enough precautions were taken, (someone else did the math, for example) Brenda was able to fulfil the duties of waiting tables at MaveRin Take-Away Delites adequately enough, but the law of averages is still a law; eventually she would cock up and put a chap on a plate next to a mound of rice and trot it smilingly off to the most cantankerous customer MaveRin  had seen since the MP and his girlfriend showed up in March.

The MP and his girlfriend. Who would have thought anything would ever beat that?

“This is not a problem,” Kevin said, shouldering his way to the table. “Correct his order and take it to him. Chop –chop. Or should I say, ‘Chap-chap’? Har har har.” Kevin’s stupid pun diluted the stance of authority he had started in when he walked up.

“That is the problem. We don’t know what his order is. He won’t tell us.”

What?

“He’s one of those,” Belinda explained.

There is a constituency of clients who are offended by the “Order With Cash” policy of some take-aways. They feel that they are being prompted to prove their worthiness before being served and it offends them. Usually they murmer grumpily and hand over the money, but every once in a while, say when Brenda’s glassy stare impresses upon them just how helpless they are when their logical arguments can clearly gain no advantage, they begin to take it personally.

When, after demanding that he pay for food he hadn’t yet eaten, she brought him a dry plate of food he could not conceivably eat, the customer called down fire from the sky, cursed the plate and its bringer and swore that he must get what he had paid for.

He also said something about the mothers of all involved.

“He won’t budge. He insists.”

“Just how hard have you interrogated Brenda?” asked Kevin, and he turned his head to see the poor girl standing in the corner, with the expression of a complete mouse on her face, her eyes red from all the crying.

Belinda dropped her eyelids to the scoffing position. “You want us to try hypnotism, perhaps, to get the right order out of her subconscious?”

Brenda sobbed a bit from the corner. Her thumb floated towards her mouth.

Kevin thought twice about it.

She was biting the nail of her thumb in such a way as to suggest she would have been sucking it if there weren’t so many people around to frown on the act and she was in enough trouble already, she didn’t need to add further frowns to it.

Then the idea struck. This is how business thrives and operates. Through innovation, through inspiration.

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