Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Familiar Face

It was usually a good thing to have "Regulars" and it was touching when they would wait for my station to open up. Sometimes, they'd tell me that they had come to the restaurant on another night but decided to go someplace else when they found out I wasn't working. Also, there were the regulars that never wavered from the same order, so I could see them walking in the door and have their food in front of them before they were halfway through a cup of coffee, and we only talked if they felt like talking. It was nice for both of us.

But sometimes .... oy! Sometimes I felt like I would explode if I had to wait on a particular "Regular" for one more meal. Always the same complaints, the same criticisms, the same stories ... they'd been telling me the same thing for a couple of years, two or three times a week, and I just couldn't take it. Funny enough, I know they liked me. They would ask for me, but every once in a while, I'd have to get away for my own sanity and I would pay one of the other waiters to take care of them with the excuse that I was "just going on break." I didn't do it too often because it usually meant I'd have to hear for the next two or three weeks about "how awful that girl was."

One of my regulars I remember in kind of a bittersweet way was at the pancake house I worked at when I was just starting out. He was an old man who'd come in about 9 at night maybe twice a week and sit at table 4, a little deuce against the wall. He would order a side of dry toast and a side of bacon with coffee, and then a side of dry toast and a side of bacon 'to go' when he was about halfway through his meal. It was always the same, so I'd drop the toast and call the bacon automatically, but I still went over to the table so he could order it each time. You get a feel after a while for people that like to be anticipated, and the ones that get pleasure or feel empowered by getting to place the order, and he just seemed like he enjoyed making that second order. One night I mentioned his 'one to stay, one to go' to another waitress I worked with and she said, "I'll bet that second order is for his dog." After that, I'd just about cry every time I waited on him. Maybe I knew subconsciously that one day I'd be an old man with a little dog waiting for me at home.

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