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“I mean there can’t be a sadder image than a guy in a suit at Outback Steakhouse alone on Valentine’s Day, sitting across from an untouched decanter of white wine,” a man named Stephen Bonser tweeted live from an Outback restaurant yesterday.
Truly it was a sad scene. Bonser, dressed up in a suit, ordering wine and leaving voice messages for a date who would never arrive. But it was all a fake. Earlier in the day, Bonser tweeted: “If I went to Outback Steakhouse by myself tonight and asked for a table for 2, then got progressively sadder as the night went on alone, do you think they’d give me my steak for free?”
if I went to Outback Steakhouse by myself tonight and asked for a table for 2, then got progressively sadder as the night went on alone, do you think they’d give me my steak for free?— Phteven (@baconflavoring) February 14, 2019
Encouraged by his followers, and a sister who said she’d pay for his meal if his plan didn’t work, Bonser decided to try out his experiment and he chronicled the whole thing live on Twitter.
He got dressed up and reserved a table for two at the Outback Steakhouse in Arlington, Virginia.
in case you were wondering whether I’m taking this seriously...— Phteven (@baconflavoring) February 15, 2019
y’all. i wore a suit jacket. pic.twitter.com/Xlae1xXQxi
He ordered himself a beer and some wine for this “date”. He then pretended to leave her a voicemail, saying he was at the restaurant.
i just pretended to leave a voicemail saying “I’m here, let me know when you’re on your way” as my waiter walked by— Phteven (@baconflavoring) February 15, 2019
As the minutes rolled by, things got progressively sadder and Bonser started getting concerned looks from the couples around him.
“hello darkness my old friend” pic.twitter.com/2i6rQS260j— Phteven (@baconflavoring) February 15, 2019
Finally, with the kitchen closing soon, Bonser ordered some food and left another, even sadder fake voicemail, where he expressed concern for this “date,” who he named Katherine.
audio of a fake voicemail I just left in earshot of anyone still at the bar pic.twitter.com/LfIttzT3u6— Phteven (@baconflavoring) February 15, 2019
Katherine is a consultant at Deloitte. She lives in Arlington, that’s why I chose this spot.— Phteven (@baconflavoring) February 15, 2019
We met at the grocery store. We both went for the same bag of shredded cheese.
She seemed so excited for our Valentine’s Day date.
Finally, as the restaurant was about to close, Bonser’s plan succeeded in an expected way. Instead of Outback comping his meal, another couple offered to pay for it.
“Hey, bud, we’ll take care of that,” the man said, according to Bonser’s interview with the Washington Post. “Sorry about that. Don’t let it get you down.”
UPDATE: a couple at the bar paid for my meal for me.— Phteven (@baconflavoring) February 15, 2019
Obviously feeling guilty, Bonser donated $50 to the ACLU to try and balance out his karma.
Bosner then boxed up his ill-gotten gains and took off, leaving a $20 tip for the waiter. Assuming his bill was around $50, this would have been approximately double the standard 20% gratuity.
The Valentine’s shenanigans have now gone viral with the story receiving thousands of retweets and likes.
I feel like you're the hero we don't deserve.— Adam Rank (@adamrank) February 15, 2019
Get this cat free steak.....FO LIFE! pic.twitter.com/zYeSLoc0eU— Cole Wright (@ColeWrightNFL) February 15, 2019
Damn you Katherine! "Hello Darkness My Old Friend" w/pic was the best. Cheers...— PVA_FoNSO (@FeMS0084) February 15, 2019
ACLU donations and 40% tips aside, a few people felt that Bonser’s little prank crossed the line, and many pointed out that the server would have made more money flipping the table a few times and getting more customers.
Are you kidding me. There are servers out there counting on these table turns to provide for their family.— Sarah Pepper (@Clachina) February 15, 2019
as a member of the Australian delegation as well as a service industry worker, this guy sucks and should be banned from Outback Steakhouse https://t.co/QlRVWG43D3— adrian crawford (@Crawf33) February 15, 2019
As someone who worked in the service industry for well over a decade: keeping your server there after closing time to pull this shit guarantees you'll deserve every instance of poor service and restaurant related food poisoning you get for the rest of your life.— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) February 15, 2019
As far as Outback itself is concerned, they clearly approved of the ruse, or at least the free publicity it brought them. They reached out to Bonser via their official Twitter account, offering him two more free meals if he feels like actually bringing a date in.
How about you bring in a real date and the meal’s on us? The love connection is up to you though. ♥️ Send us a DM so we can make it happen.— Outback Steakhouse (@Outback) February 15, 2019
Now all he needs to do is find a date who thinks his story is funny instead of manipulative. With any luck, she might even be named Katherine.
David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.