To eat or not to eat - Shannon Jenkins

When it comes to dining out, I'm not the best of dates.

It's becoming a running joke amongst those who know me that restaurants and I don't mix.

From virtually nonexistent service to not-so-tasty extras in entr–es, I've seen it all. We all have unpleasant experiences to share, but I assure you, I have been cursed by the gods of fast food joints and white linen restaurants. My fellow diners can attest the odds are not in my favor.

I've had hair intertwined in my pasta. I've waited at least 15 minutes for my check to arrive. I've nearly choked from a dry throat as waiters ignored my pleas for a fresh drink.

Just this past weekend on what promised to be a pleasant experience at one of my favorite local eateries, my dining curse assured me it was alive and thriving. I ordered my usual soup and a side and engaged in topics possibly not suitable for dinner conversation. The meal was off to a good start. The appetizers were delicious as always. The tea was sweet and cold. The service was attentive.

And then came the soup – the same soup I order all the time. It came as usual, with a few extras to slip in at my discretion. As I swirled it around and readied for my first sip, I happened to notice a peculiar black dot. I scooped it out, and there it was in all its glory – a bug. And not just any bug, but very possibly a future momma roach. If not on Mother's Day, then when, I ask you, would this protein surprise be more appropriate?

Needless to say, I skipped my usual bowl of soup on this fateful day. And my meal, along with the meals of my dining companions, was free. The manager apologized profusely, and we assured him we'd be back despite the dead potential momma roach that had drowned in my favorite soup.

Free meals have been uncommonly common in my life. I must say, I've had more than I think is statistically possible. But I forge ahead. Dining with friends and family is one my favorite pastimes.

And what is the moral of this story? You may take from it what you will. Some may decline my invitations to lunch. Others may be inspired to look past the bumps in the road of pursuing their passions. After all, I love dining out, and no bug will discourage me. A bit of finger in my chili, however, might.

Shannon Jenkins is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or sjenkins@henryherald.com .