While serving at Waffle House, I distinctly remember this larger man with a big, brown bushy beard coming in maybe once or twice a year. He’d always sit at the low two seater in section 1 during more spontaneous bursts of business in the evening.
This guy was extra jolly, somewhat immature and itching to tell jokes to whatever waitress crossed his path, which was mostly me.
Yes, jokes: these corny ass one-liners that you’d instinctively bring your left palm over your face quickly after. Knee slappers. Dad jokes.
“Hey, hey you” he chuckled to himself, both nostrils flared from bulbous tip of his nose that poked out of all his facial hair. “Knock knock!”
Now the other waitresses and the cook seemed a bit annoyed with the man. Like I said, busy times was his favorite time to cut up, and everyone was trying to concentrate. However, I welcomed that type of energy so close to my tables: his laugh was quite infectious.
“Who’s there?” I called out, balancing 3 plates on one hand and one more that rested on my arm.
“Buddha…” he curled his bottom lip with his teeth to keep from laughing in a childish manner.
After my visit to the larger family I was serving, I whipped around the counter. “Buddha who?”
“Who’s Buddha’ren my toast over there??” He exclaimed, squinted, teary eyes and barely keeping it together. He then proceeded to breathe out in between laughs:”I want extra Buddha!”
I let out a couple loud “aaah aaah aaah”’s, a laugh I definitely adopted from my cute mother. He lit up as I walked around his table and proceeded to clear off a counter in my section that just left.
“Hey, heyhey, where do waffles go on vacation?”
I was organizing my dirty plate stack on the tabletop, and smiled at the game. “I dunno man, where?”
He raised one pointer finger, as he very matter-a-factly answered in a fecisious tone: “Sandy Eggo”
He kept on doing this even after business died down, drinking cups of black coffee that clung to the bottom tips of his mustache, thinking of the next golden joke to take the restaurants stage, or at least my attention, spitting one out after another.
That old man knew what he was doing. His gift was overlooked by most staff stressing a busy shift, but it didn’t surpass the emotional radar of this trained empath. I actually felt good after he strutted out: my diaphragm was exercised from laughing and I distinctly remember taking a deep breath and feeling the endorphins and positive energy he left with me. I wonder if any other waitresses at other restaurants noticed too, because I guarantee you this isn’t the first time he’s attempted to share his gift with various waitstaff.