Today, I went to a cafe for lunch, hoping to cheer myself up. I ordered a chinese chicken salad and coffee.
This cafe has a cute gimmick. They print a scrambled word on the bottom of the “special menu” each day. If the customer can unscramble it, he can win a free dessert. Most patrons don’t bother playing. Some spend their entire meal scribbling on their napkin, trying to decipher it. I took one glance at the scrambled letters — and immediately saw that it spelled “unpreparedness.”
“Is the answer — unpreparedness?” I asked.
“Yes,” said the waiter, but he seemed uneasy with me.
“Did you hear the answer from another customer?” he asked.
“No, I just figured it out. I’m usually not that good at this, but I figured the root was “ness.” And maybe my mind is so unscrambled already with stuff going on in my life, that it was easy for me.”
“Did someone leave the answer on the menu?”
“No, I just figured it out!”
“In one second?!”
At this point, the patrons to either side of me where eavesdropping, and shaking their heads at my immorality, as if they had just encountered Bernie Madoff stopping off for a quick bite before going to prison.
“So, you really figured it out?” the waiter asked again.
He clearly thought I was a fraud, much like the policeman thought of the young Indian winner of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in “Slumdog Millionaire.”
With no proof of my deception, the waiter was forced to give me a brownie at the end of the meal.
It was a minor victory.