Today is a day in which once again I prove that I am very forgetful, far too emotional, and need to be better prepared. Fortunately, it was also a day that proved there are very nice people in this world who do care and will help you when you are down.
So I have been planning on over a week now to go to a cute little restaurant in the Chicago-land area called Choo Choo Restaurant. A very train themed restaurant and if you get the right seats, your meals is delivered to you on a train. I knew I was going. Last night I even readied the diaper bag so that when we woke up, we could pretty much get dressed and go. I printed out directions to a sort of near-by train station where I would be meeting another mom and child. Then we would take that train to Des Plaines, where the restaurant happened to be about 2 blocks from the station. It was going to be a big train day.
So we make it to the station, barely on-time because whoever did the time estimates on mapquest must have assumed I'd be driving 100 miles per hour adn not hit some 25 mile per hour zones. But we made it with no time to spare (glad I decided to leave the buffer time I did!) and we get on the train. This is the part where I realize the cash I was going to bring was sitting on my kitchen counter. Which won't help me purchase a train ticket. My friend, gracious as she is, said she had the cash to cover me (and thankfully the kids were free!). So we get to our stop, leave, walk, and arrive at the restaurant. The kids loved it. We ordered (but did not get the train delivery seats. Oh well), ate, got the bill. As I pulled out my credit card, the waitress says "I'm sorry we only take cash."
Yes, I admit my chin hit the floor and my eyes had that deer in headlights look. 1. I had no cash. 2. I had no checks. 3. I had no ATM card so I couldn't use the bank near the restaurant. I basically burst into tears at that point. I'm thinking to myself, I'm 20 minutes from my car, 40 minutes from my home, I've got three kids and I can't pay the bill. I'm looking around the place for a sign that would have informed of that policy before that point, and folks, there wasn't one. It asn't on the menu, wasn't posted anywhere. Really, I was nervous. My friend had enough to pay the bill, leave a 3 cent tip and get her train ticket back. So now I realize not only can't I pay for my lunch but I can't get a train ticket home. Holy cow. And yes the tears came out. I couldn't help it.
The waitress walks back to our table looks at me and says "what's the problem" I sheepishly explain I can't pay the bill and she tells me "That's okay! It happens! We have a policy in place!" Holy phew! Basically I left my name and address and promised to send in the money. Of course, I then start rifling through the diaper bag for any money t all. I came up with 97 cents. It wasn't going to get me home. We decide to walk to the station and figure out what to do there. So we start out and the cashier runs out after us and tells us to stop. I admit, I momentarily thought they changed their mind and I'm going to jail (I never claimed to be a rational human being and yes, typing it I now how silly that thought was). She kindly explained that she would add 10.00 to my bill and give me 10 dollars out of the register because she wanted to ensure we got home safe and sound. Really, how coll was that?! I have to admit, I almost starting crying again. She told me not to cry because she would cry, because really, isn't this what life was about - reaching out to others when you can to help them when they needed it? Yes, I suppose it is. And I appreciate her 10.00 greatly. And, of course, I made it home. Where I promptly napped because Little Man napped and I felt very worn out and stressed and high strung and just needed some down time.
Anyway, tomorrow I am dropping in a check for our meal, plus 10.00 that they spotted me, plus a tip for our waitress and a tip for the cashier and a nice note telling them exactly how thankful I am.
And, really, if you live near this restaurant and have kids who like trains, I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend that you bring some cash with you. Trust me, you'll need it!