Lunch breaks make me smile. I love how unexciting and undemanding they are. Particularly when I just start driving and stop for lunch wherever seems like the best kind of wherever.
According to Wikipedia, Waffle House is a Southern American regional icon. Thankfully, right now it’s not really iconic. It’s just lunch: syrupy sweet tea, a grilled cheese, and a too-big bowl of chili.
A postman comes in and speaks to the servers, calling them by name, before placing his to-go order. A waitress notes that she’s only ever made five omelets, but she’ll do her best at the grill while the chef is busy. A balding forty-something in the booth in front of me says he just saw his daughter for the first time in fifteen years, and he’s celebrating with Diet Coke and a cinnamon roll.
Talk of $10 green bananas, storks, and the weather surrounds me as I prop my feet up on the empty booth seat across from me and settle into my book: Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide. It’s quickly becoming a favorite, and just as I get lost in it, I feel someone standing too close. I look up as a waitress sweeps the floor under my booth, glancing over my shoulder at the document on my computer screen at the same time. I flinch. “You’re fine, hon,” she says, brushing my pant legs with the broom.
Good to know.
Ten minutes more, break is over… return to the plant where I work and sweep my own floors for awhile: oil-soaked concrete below the big Alco boilers. Ten minutes more, and Waffle House will be all but completely forgotten. But I’m still smiling.