Friday, May 17, 2013


            “Do you know what you want,” she asked.
            “I dunno,” he said.
            She looked him up and down as he sat in the restaurant booth. She snapped her gum against her teeth and waited. He just stared at the menu, seemingly reading every word intensely.

            “Should I give you another couple minutes honey,” she asked.
            “Yeah,” he said.

            She walked away from the table and back around the diner counter. She positioned herself against the coffee station and folded her arms against her chest. It was one o’clock in the afternoon and the place was empty except for this one customer. There wasn’t much of a lunch rush, just a few construction workers from a few blocks away. They just got a few sandwiches to go. $18.00 bill for which she received $1.50 tip. She wasn’t sure how she would make rent this month if this kind of slow down continued.

            She looked out the window and watched the wind push sickly gray clouds through the sky. It looked like rain. She looked back to her lone customer, still staring at the menu. He was still on the first breakfast page. He was focused on the Hammerin’ Hash picture. It was hash browns covered with an open faced egg, covered with more hash browns, a pat of butter on the top and covered in maple syrup. It was a crazy creation from a cook that hadn’t work at the Brown Top Restaurant for 16 years. She didn’t’ know why it was still on the menu, or why it was a featured item. People did order it though. Well, not people, drunks ordered it at three o’clock in the morning.

            She slowly walked back toward the lone customer at the booth.

            “Is there anything I can help you with,” she asked.
            “I dunno,” he said.
            “Do you have any questions about any items on the menu,” she asked.

            She started to wonder in her mind if this guy could read. It wasn’t all that uncommon for someone to come in that couldn’t read and they sat there, struggling with the menu for a long time. The guy was sweating a bit and looked pretty frustrated.

            “No,” he said.

            He didn’t look up, but he did flip the menu over to the lunch specials.

            “We have a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich as a special today that’s not on the menu,” she said.

            The man didn’t reply. He returned to his focused reading of the menu items. She got the hint and slowly backed away from the table while tapping her pen against her order pad.  She wondered if this guy might be one of those nutso types; laid off from some factory job, drunk for days, hell bent on revenge. It was always the waitresses or the support staff of life that always seemed to catch the most hell from the nutsos.

            She returned to her spot by the coffee maker and leaned back. She realized she never offered the guy at the both anything to drink. She didn’t notice him come in and sit down so she never thought to get him something. She grabbed the water pitcher and walked back toward the guy at the booth. She poured him a glass of water.

            “Can I get you something to drink while you read over the menu,” she asked.
            “I dunno,” said the guy.

            He shrugged. For some reason that seemed to be the last straw for her and she felt her blood start to boil. Six years of taking crap from people was raging up in her stomach, she felt her anger in her eyes. It was an irrational anger but it burst forth. She put the pitcher of water down on the table.

            “Listen mac, if you don’t order something in the next two minutes I’m going call the cops and have them shoo you off for loitering,” she commanded.

            She picked up the pitcher and turned back toward the coffee station. She felt relieved to have gotten that out. She was not a mean person by nature, but even she had her limits of patience. It wasn’t the stabbing verbal attack she had imagined, but she got her point across she felt.

            The man in the booth put the menu down and took a sip of water. He stood from the table and headed toward the door.

            “Hey! Where you going,” she asked.
            “I dunno,” he said.

            He turned to the door and walked out into the graying afternoon. 

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