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The Waiter Said, "I Dare You..."

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Reading another thread reminded me of an incident that happened a few years ago that I thought people might like to chime in on...

Back in 2005 or so, I was twenty years old and living in Italy. I had a friend in Ravenna, so a few of us decided to visit her for the weekend. My friends were English, and of Indian descent, so one night we decided to try the local Indian restaurant. Our waiter was also of Indian descent, and he seemed to enjoy having some English Indian girls to chat with throughout the meal. He was the only employee we saw. When we finished our meal, but before he brought the bill, he came to our table with a bottle of Indian rose liqueur. He said, "If you girls can drink this entire bottle in half an hour, your meal is free. I dare you!" We thought he was joking and laughed it off. He persisted. We very clearly asked, "Are you serious?" He confirmed that he was. "Are you REALLY serious?" He confirmed that he was. So we drank it. Maybe a little sip of rose liqueur is okay, but polishing off a 750ml bottle in thirty minutes was no small feat. After the second or third shot, I never wanted to see or smell another rose again. But, we finished the bottle. We then ASKED the waiter, "Can we REALLY go now? Are you sure?" He congratulated us for finishing and told us to have a nice night. So we walked out.

You know where this is going! We were about two blocks down the street when a woman came running out of the restaurant, screaming at us. She said she was going to call the carabinieri unless we paid for our full meal AND the bottle of rose liqueur. We were pretty drunk (no fault of our own!) but I think we were pretty polite in asking her to work it out with her waiter. She literally grabbed my friend and was pulling her back towards the restaurant, so to "free" our friend we agreed to follow her. Back in the restaurant the woman presented us with a bill for our meal and the bottle of liqueur. We turned to the server and said, "What is going on here? You told us we could go." He replied, "I thought you knew I was just joking."

In the end we paid for our food but not the liqueur, much to the displeasure of the woman. No tip, obviously. ETA: I was definitely left with the impression that it was a waiter overstepping his bounds, rather than an intentional scam. But... if you'd found yourself in a similar situation, what would you have done?

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  1. wow that's a bait and switch!

    tough in Italy to call their cops and try to get out of that one.

    2 Replies
    1. re: smartie

      I tend to agree, in a foreign country I would probably just pay up. If I were at home i would invite the restaurant owner to call the police, or call them myself. I think that paying for the meal, which you always intended to buy but not the bottle was a pretty reasonable response given the circumstances.

      1. re: smartie

        I'd have tried. My party made and confirmed a verbal agreement with a confirmed representative of another party. The fault lies neither with us nor the other party, but with the representative. For putting our party through that, I'd push to have the representative be responsible for all fees involved.

        All that said, if I was inebriated, I'd likely follow the course of action with the quickest solution. So, I think the outcome was acceptable.

      2. I think I'd have started with my normal take on things - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          Look at the positive side of things....at least he didn't put a few roofies in the bottle!!!

          1. re: ospreycove

            Ah. Very good point.

            1. re: ospreycove

              That was my thought as well. Not so much about the roofies but just generally getting a bunch of young girls drunk before sending them off into the night. I assumed the story involved getting robbed or --god forbid-- assaulted by conspirators of the waiter.

              As far as the bet goes, a wise man once told me to be careful of any bet offered by someone else. He said "One day some guy in a bar is going to bet you that a leprechaun will appear on your shoulder and pee apple juice into your ear. Don't take that bet unless you want an earful of apple juice."

              1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                "That was my thought as well. Not so much about the roofies but just generally getting a bunch of young girls drunk before sending them off into the night."

                I think the girls in this situation have to take responsibility for themselves. No one forced them to drink; they made that silly decision themselves.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Absolutely everyone has to take responsibility for themselves. Social critic Camille Paglia used to give an example of someone deciding to take a shortcut through an alley and getting mugged -- sure the mugger is the criminal but the victim shares some of the responsibility. But young people often don't have the best judgment.

                  In any event, I was just saying the story suggested a scenario that was more dire than it thankfully ended up being.

          2. When I read this I was scared first and angry second. This was a party of all women... inebriated women in a foreign country. Thank God nothing more serious happened. The waiter should be fired and hopefully you all learned to be more careful. (I'm sure you know that there should always be a sober person in your group, especially in a foreign country).

            1 Reply
            1. re: NicoleFriedman

              My friends spoke fluent Italian and I was conversational; they'd been living there for years and I'd been there for more than a year already (and we were all legal!). Our interactions with the waiter and then the woman were in Italian (I know I said the waiter seemed to like having English Indian girls to chat with, but it was definitely more about their being Indian). Italy wasn't a foreign country to us- it was home!

            2. I guess that more or less reinforces my impression of Italy during the tourist season. We kept hearing variations of "criminale" to describe the Italian antics.

              2 Replies
              1. re: wattacetti

                "I guess that more or less reinforces my impression of Italy during the tourist season. We kept hearing variations of "criminale" to describe the Italian antics."

                I think this is a bit of a blanket statement. I have been to Italy numerous times and have never come across these kind of antics.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  I have too and when it's tourist season, it's that, especially if you're visibly not of Italian descent. Off season can be different.

              2. If only one of you had managed to vomit rose liqueur all over the waiter...

                : )

                1. In Rome, I had just the reverse.

                  Our sommelier was the son of the owner, and was quite proud of his cellar, as he should have been. First, he had a little "display" cellar at the restaurant level, and then the real, working cellar down stairs, that went back to about 600 BC. He was pair our multi-course meal with B-T-G selections. At some point, I noticed a boxed 3 ltr. bottle in the display cellar, with "MASI" stenciled on it. I asked if that was the Masi Amarone, and he said that it was. I told him of an earlier dining experience, when I had chosen that (1988) from that list, and how much my guests enjoyed it. For our mains, he had two glasses of a rich red, poured out of sight. It was the Masi Amarone, but the 1993. It paired wonderfully with the course, and I commented on how surprised I was, to have such a wine in a B-T-G selection. When we were done, he handed me a 1 ltr. bottle of that wine, with but two glasses out of it, and told us to "enjoy. It is with my compliments" We did, and I only hope that my tip reflected my gratitude. No "dare" involved, but the "other side of the story."

                  Hunt

                  1. "She said she was going to call the carabinieri unless we paid for our full meal AND the bottle of rose liqueur. We were pretty drunk (no fault of our own!)"

                    Really..."no fault of you own?" No one forced you to drink. You could have said no thank you to the waiter's "dare" and been done with it.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      I agree that it definitely was not "no fault of our own". However, the waiter obviously was manipulative in this situation. The patrons also were obviously naive, but they hopefully learned a lesson from this.

                      1. re: NicoleFriedman

                        I wonder what CHers reactions would be had this been a table of guys. :)

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          interesting view of "The New Italians", without them restaurants, hospitality businesses, would not exist.
                          http://annesitaly.com/blog/?p=2953

                    2. You were young, you were naive...but at least you weren't hurt and you did get an excellent story out of it!