I don’t think I’m an uptight person. I like things done a certain way. I believe that good manners are not a matter of style, but a mandatory guide to life. I also have zero tolerance for bad manners. I used to wish I was more flexible on these issues. I don’t any more. I am who I am and I like what I like!

About a year ago, my special friend was telling me about a food place that served what he considered the best Jamaican patties. He described to me the perfect half moon shaped pastries as being just the right flakiness and most perfect soft yellow colouring. The fillings were a variety beyond what I knew: beef that was coloured with the tiniest flecks of red pepper married by a sauce of expertly blended seasoning; chicken that had been bathed in just the right amount of curry; then there was also shrimp that could not be described – it had to be experienced.

I was so excited by the possibility of these great flavours that I was willing to abandon our fridge that was packed full of food and make the 30 minute drive to sample this tasty treat.

We were giddy with excitement for the entire drive. With each passing minute my friend added a new layer of description to his tale about these perfect patties. I had no reason not to believe these stories. Even my stomach was convinced as the grumbling soon turned into a contented hum as it waited with happy anticipation of something great!

Finally we arrived. The shop was located in the second to last unit of a tiny strip mall. I reminded myself not to be judgemental because good food can be found in the craziest of places! (Have you ever seen Diners, Drive Thrus and Dives?!) With the car in park, I had made my decision. I was going to dine on a shrimp patty. It would be my first. I knew it would only satisfy my re-emerging hunger for half the time it took to get there. Still I didn’t care as I was hopeful that this patty would be the finest I ever had.

I was saying this to my friend, when suddenly I heard a bark that I believed was direct at me. I chose to ignore this assuming that I was mistaken. Then I heard the bark again:

“You can’t have dat!”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You can’t have the shrimp!”

I turned to my friend in disbelief and said, “I think I’m going to try the chicken instead because..” and before I could finish I heard the bark again, “You can’t have chicken either!”

At this point my stomach started a horrible grumble. Neither it nor I could believe how we were being spoken to.

“I said, what I’m going to give you is…” This time it was my turn. Before the little Madam could finish, I turned to my friend and announced that I was going to wait in the car. I didn’t want to be barked at anymore.

My friend took whatever it was that the rude madam did have available for sale that evening. Admittedly the patty (all she had was the regular beef flavour) was good. Perhaps it might have even been exceptional, but the behaviour I’d encountered had left a bad taste in my mouth that I know tainted the food’s flavour.

Neither my friend nor I have ever returned to that place. The last time we spoke of it was in passing a few months ago. My friend told me that after I walked out the rude madam continued to treat everyone in the same manner. She didn’t discriminate in her rudeness as it seemed to be her standard for engaging with others.

We have since found other restaurants where the food is great, the locations are closer to home and everyone one knows that good manners, unlike certain fruits and vegetables, are not seasonal or fashion items.

Laters & Good Night,

Mantha Baby