It’s 6:30 am, Sunday. I’m at the Waffle House. The griddle is hot. Burning grease, toasted bread and waffles. Coffee brewing in two pots.
I need a cup of coffee, black. It’s been a long two weeks. The table is sticky.
A road trip. Seven hundred miles, each way. A good old country Bar-b-que, a rehearsal dinner, a wedding, a reception, a day at the horse races. We’re were in Kentucky.
I was the designated driver.
Then a solid week of keeping a two year old grand-daughter.
Had to cut about six acres of grass. Not once but twice. Cut it when we got there. Cut it again before we left. Ticks, redbugs, spiders and cockleburs. Grand-daughters!
I retired to do this?
So, I’m sitting in a booth in the corner. My favorite spot. There’s a husband and wife two booths away. They’re eating breakfast, drinking ice water. Neither one says a word to the other. Just busy with fork and knife.
I’m alone, with pen, paper and my thoughts.
I see an old high school classmate. He’s one of those whose life should have been a bed of roses. Easy, clear roads and good paths to follow. His life should have turned out right. He turned left too many times. He hit potholes that tore his world apart.
Next to me, sitting on a stool is an overweight woman.
She wears a Wal-Mart uniform, blue over khaki. Her thumbs are going ninety to nothing, driving a cell-phone. Someone else is wide awake at 6:30 and they’re not here. The “I just got off work” look is in her eyes, etched in her face. I imagine she’s been stacking Kleenex, paper towels and baby diapers since midnight. She’s not ready to go home.
Two or three others walk in. There’s a man wearing a Branson T-shirt and a camouflage ball cap. He’s drinking orange juice. He’s closer to my age than anyone else at the counter. He turns and looks every time the door opens. I like my corner.
I’m nursing my second cup of coffee.
A man and his son walk in. The kid is wearing a t-shirt jersey with a number on the back and a business name on the front. He’s shaking his head about breakfast. His Dad orders the ham and grits. The kid drinks a coke.
There’s another couple, dressed for church or a funeral. He’s got his coat and tie. She’s in her Sunday best. As they walk in, he holds the door. They’re close to social security age also.
They look around. I don’t think they’ve been here before. They take another booth. Order big breakfast platters.
By now, I’m on my third cup of coffee. The waitress has been up all night, too. I think she wants to go home. She doesn’t call me ‘darling.’ That’s a first at the Waffle House.
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