Service With a Smile

Our island is famous for many things: stunning scenery, beautiful landscapes, cultural and ethnic diversity, and scrumptious food. However, nothing is perfect. Sometimes, the service in Reunion is far from satisfactory. Sometimes, it is very near to satisfactory. But the experience I had at a restaurant in the west of the island last month was so awful, so bad, so atrocious, that if ‘Satisfactory’ were a town, I can say that the service would have been so far from Satisfactory that I could have found myself in another galaxy.

There we were, five adults and four kids, all enjoying a Friday night meal ofmussels and chips.

Halfway through the meal, one of us discovered, in the bottom of the pot, amaggot. A big dead maggot. Now, you’re wondering what a ‘maggot’ is. Have a look at the vocab. Got it? I know. I nearly threw up. We told the waiter. He told the boss. The boss told his waiter to apologise. “No harm done” we said, “these things happen”.

Then my friend ordered a rum. Inside was something dark. Something crooked. Yes, it was the leg of a cockroach. I had had enough! My friends were being far too patient, so I picked up the cockroach leg and went to see the boss.

Typically British, I felt that all this was clearly my fault. But my Gallic side took over, and my guilt disappeared. “Erm, after the maggot, we have this…” I showed him the offending object. “It’s part of a cockroach.” He replied ‘no, that’s a bit of vanilla.’

I said, ‘I’m not an expert on vanilla, and I’m not an expert on cockroaches, but THIS is part of a cockroach.’

His wife appeared from the kitchen. She looked very angry indeed. “It’s impossible. We have no cockroaches in our kitchen!” she announced proudly.

“Are you suggesting that I go out to restaurants with bits of cockroach in my pocket for fun?” I countered.

Her reaction? She took a close look at my finger. Then grabbed the cockroach leg. And then yes, my friends, she put it in her mouth and she ate it. Like Luke Skywalker, I shouted ‘Noooooooooooooo!’

Chewing away, she went back into her kitchen shouting “you see, perfectly good!”

The boss then advised ME to go and sit down, as he was concerned that I wouldlose my temper. I was just trying not to throw up…

What could I do? What would you have done?

I didn’t want to annoy them. I just wanted to inform them of the problem. These things happen, even in 5 star hotels, it’s not the end of the world. But it’s all about how the situation is handled. And the way this situation was handled was light years from satisfactory.


stunning – époustouflant
landscapes – paysages
scrumptious – succulent
satisfactory – satisfaisant
awful – affreux

far – loin
mussels – moules
maggot – asticot
to throw up – vomir
no harm done! – ya pas de mal !

crooked – crochu
guilt – culpabilité
cockroach – cafard
to grab – saisir
to lose your temper – perdre son sang froid

to handle – gérer
light years – années lumières

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