Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A Night To Remember

Last Sunday night, my husband was given tickets for our family to attend a live match of the ANZ Championship 2013 between LG Mystics (Auckland team) and Central Pulse (Wellington team). These series of netball matches pit the top five regional teams from New Zealand against the top five regional teams from Australia. 

Before the event was scheduled to begin at 7pm, my husband, daughter and I were to meet the Relationship Manager of his company's bank for dinner at a restaurant-cum-bar nearby the stadium. It was a pleasure to meet our lovely hostess for the evening, Sharon, as well as her other clients.

What we had thought would be a fun and interesting evening turned out to be more than we had bargained for, with a totally unexpected twist right at the end!

We ordered our drinks at the counter and proceeded to our table to decide what we wanted to have for dinner. My husband and I both ordered the good ole Kiwi fish and chips while our daughter opted for a beef burger with chips.

As we were waiting for our meals to arrive, we chatted with Sharon and her client friend, Fiona, who both played in the same netball team. My husband nipped across to another table to meet Sharon's other client and his family.

We chatted and waited. Then we waited some more and hoped our meals would arrive soon so we could make it to the game in good time. Sharon went to make some enquiries and was asked if either my husband or I could change our order as the restaurant had run out of fish. My husband promptly changed his order to honey BBQ pork ribs and chips, bless him!

Eventually, Sharon's order made its appearance first at our table. Fiona's burger followed shortly after, and Sharon's client and his family at the other table soon received their meals. However, the three of us continued to wait.

Finally, one of the waitresses came over to us and apologised for the delay, explaining that there had been a mix-up with the orders and it would take another ten minutes or so. Furthermore, the mix-up meant that they had totally run out of the fish they usually used for fish and chips. So, I would have to settle for something that sounded like bar fish. I had no idea what to expect!

Another ten minutes of waiting meant we wouldn't have enough time to eat if we wanted to be in time for the game. By now, we had waited a full hour and the others had all finished their meals. So we asked for our food to be packed to go. Hopefully, the stadium would allow us to bring in outside food.

I looked thoughtfully at my handbag and it seemed big enough to accommodate the food if the restaurant could pack it in small containers and put them inside a plastic bag to prevent any spillage. Maybe we could sneak the food in at the entrance.

Alas, the containers were BIG! I might be able to fit one and a half of them in my handbag, if that was possible. And believe it or not, the restaurant didn't have plastic bags! Not a single one! Neither could they provide us with plastic cutlery. At best, we could borrow their real cutlery which we would need to return later.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing - the restaurant had neither plastic bags nor takeaway cutlery! It was hard to remain calm when we were racing against time. I almost felt sorry for the flustered waitress who was trying to apologise. I said almost. It was a good thing Sharon was handling the whole situation because I wasn't sure if I could have handled it as professionally as she did.

When we stepped out of the restaurant to start our five-minute walk to the stadium, it was beginning to rain again. Upon reaching the stadium under our rain jackets and umbrellas and with our containers of food in full view, we were told at the entrance that we could not take commercial food inside and had to either leave it in our vehicle or eat it before going in.

The former wasn't an option as our car was parked back at the restaurant. Besides, we were ravenous by now! So, we sat ourselves down on a dry spot next to the entrance and tried to wolf down our dinner, pretending that no one could see us while they were queueing up to go in. The bar fish or whatever it was, was a real disappointment. It was rubbery and had a strange taste. However, I didn't have time to mull over it as I was concentrating on trying to chew as fast as I could.

At one stage, Sharon came to check on us. I was aghast to realise that she and Fiona had been waiting for us at the entrance while we were having our dinner! I thought my husband had told them to go in first so they wouldn't miss the game.

Regretfully I closed the lid on the rest of my chips, binned it and hurried inside the stadium with the others. We went up the stairs and passed one block of seating after another in search of a row of five empty seats. Spotting lots of vacant seats at the second-to-last block, we settled down to watch the game that had already begun.

The game proved to be really exciting. Even though Central Pulse appeared to be the stronger team and was ahead by an average margin of five points, LG Mystics somehow managed to close the gap till extra time was called to decide the draw. It was a nail-biting neck and neck race between the two teams throughout the entire extra time of fourteen minutes. The crowd roared and cheered wildly when Mystics finally won by 69-68! A mere one point; its first win of the season!

It was an unbelievable victory for the Mystics! But the highlight of the evening for us had yet to come.

It was Sharon who spotted him first.

Standing in the vacant last block of seats next to ours together with a couple of people was Piri Weepu, one of the rugby players for the NZ All Blacks. Weepu agreed to a photograph when Sharon approached him and my daughter joined them for the unexpected and once-in-a-lifetime snapshot. Well, two, to be exact, but one of them didn't turn out well.

Despite the frustrating start with the dinner, it had turned out to be an exciting and incredible evening with my family and new friends.

An interesting and memorable break from doing anything related to pursuing my God-sized dreams while I watched others pursue theirs.

And a good reminder that when we make the best of a less-than-ideal situation, sometimes there's an unexpected bonus at the end!

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