Right now, mainly because I haven’t done much this summer, I have a small surplus of cash.
And, in accordance with Newton’s Third Law of Extra Money, it must be spent on things of little value before I do something stupid – like save it.
I’m at a good point in life. I mean, save for not having a dining room table (something I’ve been lacking/complaining about since February), and a somewhat questionable transmission, I’m otherwise doing pretty well. Oh, there are health issues, but I’ll always have those, and for the time being, they’re reasonably managed. I’ve got a job, a wonderful partner in The Little Woman, and the respect and admiration of most of North America.
Okay, maybe not so much that last one, but I’m getting there. Just you wait.
The point is, I don’t need anything. That’s one thing I can say about my childhood – we never needed anything; the stuff we fixated on were wants, not needs. There’s a difference, you know.
It was with this in mind that I decided to treat myself and visit a local area restaurant, known for the usual sports bar type foods. This is not a place to handle wedding receptions; it’s the place you go to before you get engaged. The Little Woman had an appointment that would last hours; she’d planned to eat while she was out and about, so that meant I was free to chase down whatever sustenance I wanted. I was also in a questionable mood, and I figured that dinner someplace other than Hot House would lift my spirits.
When I got to the restaurant, I was surprised at how empty it was. The host gave me a decent booth and told me that the server would be by shortly. I waited.
And waited. And . . . waited.
After about fifteen minutes of waiting in the barely populated restaurant, I was at a crossroads. I could leave (and I was slowly trying to talk myself into doing just that), as the wait time was ridiculous. Or, since I’d already invested that much time, I could just wait and see how this disaster turned out. I opted for the latter, especially after the host – clearly channeling me – raced over and asked me to wait just a little bit longer.
“She’s new,” he added, as if that solved everything. It did, in a way; knowing that she was a new employee meant that I should be a little more patient. So I continued my wait.
Three minutes later, a frazzled looking twenty-something woman came up to my table. By the look on her face, she’d just handled the Table from Hell. She looked so sad that I was tempted to ask her to sit down. Whatever frustration I had up to that point quickly dissipated.
“Hi, I’m your server. My name is Michelle. Can I take your order?” Then, “Wait – let me find my pencil. Okay, now!”
Maybe you had to be there, but there was something endearing about this young woman, overwhelmed, but still trying to do things right. I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Our special tonight are boneless chicken wings. These are boneless. That means they have no bones.”
I looked at her.
“Yeah, I know. But you can’t imagine how many people I’ve had to explain that to.”
Everything after that went well. Michelle took my order, checked on me periodically, and even managed to relax a bit. Had I darted out of the place – as I’d originally considered – I would have never met this person, much less be affected by her determination to do everything right. Meanwhile, business had begun to pick up. More groups were arriving, and I knew it was time for me to go. When it was over and I paid the bill, I had to say something.
“They told me that you’re new here.”
Michelle nodded and smiled.
“Well,” I said, “you’re doing a great job. Good luck.”
Michelle’s smile got wider.
“I don’t need luck,” she said. “I need Jesus. Just say a prayer for me, ’cause I need all the help I can get.” She sighed and looked around the room.
“All of the help I can get, okay?”