The standard policy, as we knew it before (usually being there for dinner instead of lunch, and with more people that just the two of us) was that no doggie bags or foam containers were allowed. What was left on the table was disposed of. Or, as Farmer H believed, served to subsequent diners. I can see the reason for such a policy, from the owner's standpoint. It's all you can eat. Not all you can take home. What's to prevent people from eating their fill, yet telling the waitress they need more of everything. VOILA! A platter of fried foods to take home for a later feast.
Auntie never eats leftovers. She barely turns on her oven twice a year. So she always encouraged me to take the leftovers to Farmer H. Anticipating (I stop short of ASSUMING) this behavior on Thursday, I made appropriate plans. The last couple of times, the slaw juice and baked bean juice mixed a little, and dampened the fried goods on the bottom of the foam container. This time, I cleaned the empty Christmas gift bag and the butter flavor powder from my movie purse. I put in two round plastic containers with lids. That way, I could safely transport the slaw and baked beans without seepage.
Imagine my shock when, near the end of our lunch, Auntie told the waitress, right after saying she was full, "We could use a few more pieces of fish." Let the record show that I am on the previous record as describing that Thursday's fish as something like the fried tail of a perch you might catch while fishing with a worm off the dock of your Grandpa's pond in the hog lot. I ate two pieces of the fish, and did not desire more. But it's Auntie's favorite part of the selection. So I guess I should have left it all to her, and concentrated on the chicken.
Anyhoo...as the waitress left to bring us more fish, Auntie said, "You can take what's left home for Farmer H."
"I'm not sure they'll let us take it, since we asked for more. They usually don't let you take anything if you get refills on your platter."
"Oh, come on! It was just the two of us! For all-you-can-eat! This will go to waste!"
"Yeah. But I think that's their policy."
"They'll let us take it."
After about 10 minutes of our waitress running around the "dinning" room, and no more fish...a dude waiter came out with a platter holding about 7 pieces of fish. He started to put it on our table.
"Oh, we don't need THAT much! Just a couple of pieces!"
Waiter Dude slid 3 pieces off the side of the platter, onto our platter that still held a considerable portion of potato wedges (Auntie won't eat them once they get cold) and fried shrimp (neither of us are a big fan) and hush puppies (I had too much chicken to concentrate on to waste my calories on hush puppies). Huh. This fresh fish was twice or triple the length of the original pieces we'd had. AND it was plump. Not like fried perch tail skin at all! Auntie ate two pieces, and encouraged me to take one. Nope. I'd calculated my portions. I resisted the temptation.
"I'm sure they'll give us a box."
"I don't know. I'll take it to Farmer H if they do. I told him I'd try to bring him some leftovers. But I don't think they'll let us do it."
I did NOT tell Auntie that I already had two round plastic containers in my movie purse, ready to stow away the slaw and baked beans. But I was thinking, even if we were told that we couldn't have a box, that I could put the stuff in there. Right at that moment, Auntie said,
"There's a camera watching you."
"Up there. In the corner. You're on camera."
"Now why would they do that? What do they think they're going to see? People eating?"
"Um. Probably they see people trying to take out leftovers! My mom would have! She would have this stuff wrapped in a napkin and in her purse by now. She used to do it at the old wings place. Order a sandwich, then put some of the meat on the rolls that came with the meal, then wrap her sandwich in a napkin and take it home. And fries."
"That's crazy that they have a camera in here."
So...I gave up on the idea of using my broughten-in containers. I didn't want to be seen on camera, and have to deal with a big scene in front of that full dining room. That kind of thing could go on my permanent record, you know!
Our original waitress came back to see how we wanted the bill. Auntie told her, "Separate." AND she said, "We'll take a box for the rest of this."
The waitress waited a beat. The look on her face said that she KNEW we had gotten more fish, even though she wasn't the one to bring it. But then she said, "Okay. I'll be right back."
I took that opportunity to go to the bathroom. Where I almost burned my hands off with the 500-degree water. I might have gotten my meal free if I came out with charred stubs. But even though I have a high pain tolerance, I had to yank them back. When I returned to the table, the waitress was taking money. She walked off.
"Oh, did you pay? I'll pay you back. How much was my part?"
Auntie pointed to the little black folder on top of a foam box. "There's your bill. She says she can take it at the table." Indeed. That waitress practically ran up and asked if I was ready to pay. Then she brought my change. Which I took, because Auntie and I had already put out $3 each for a tip. Even before we got our boxes.
AND this time, we had a square box, and two small round containers with lids. So I didn't have to flaunt my thievery on camera, and I could take Farmer H unsoggy fried goods.
Let the record show that his take included about 15 shrimp, 20 potato wedges, four hush puppies, one piece of catfish, one strip of chicken, a bowl of slaw, a bowl of baked beans, and no applesauce. We only had three containers, you know. AND, I was putting the fried goods into the big one when the waitress brought my change back, and she said, "Um. The OTHER side is deeper." Darn those foam containers! Some of them seem like the top is the bottom, due to how the slots fit together to close them.
Good thing I didn't whip out my own plastic containers. It WAS a bit
I'm pretty sure that waitress saw my packing technique on the surveillance camera.