Because of crossed signals, I sat alone at a strange restaurant yesterday waiting for my college roommate--but I had my current manuscript in hand with a pen and made good use of my time editing and writing revision notes in the margins while ordering a sandwich and coffee.
While I sat in my booth by the window so I could watch for Kel's arrival (which is rescheduled for next week), a very frail old man came in, supported by a much younger woman. He was bundled up--scarf, coat, mittens, hat. He had clear plastic tubing running into his nose and pushed a walker ahead of his shuffling steps. I took little notice--family style restaurants cater to older folks and from the looks of the place, I was probably the only patron not using my AARP card to get a discount.
With all the care of a museum curator handing the dust of ancient Egyptian pharaohs, the young woman eased the man into the booth in front of me and sat across from him. A moment later the waitress came over and said, "How are you? It is so good to see you again." She paused and that's when I looked up. "I think I'm going to cry--I'm so happy right now." Tears welled in her eyes and I couldn't hear his answer. She introduced herself to the man's helpmate--his granddaughter.
Then another waitress came over and introduced herself to the granddaughter and welcomed the man back--from where, I do not know--but she also had a gentle way with this fragile man who somehow had returned to his restaurant where he was a regular.
The third waitress came over to the table, again expressing her pleasure to see the man again, introducing herself by name to the granddaughter. She also had tears in her eyes.
It touched me--the genuine affection for this gentleman. I wondered what he'd done to merit it--and what happened to make his return so wonderful for these waitresses. It pleased me to know that three waitresses care so much about their customers--they know the names of their regulars, the concerns of their regulars and make them feel at home in those booths of the Apple City Family Restaurant.