By Matt Gordon
I have a new favorite server. She is my favorite server because you can’t say “waitress” anymore and because she is totally nuts. I’ve had the honor of being served by her thrice, and, boy, was it a lot of serving. On the first occasion, she took our drink orders, and then asked if we had questions about the menu. “No,” my friend and I replied. To which she took as, “Yes! Please tell us everything about the menu.” Upon the delivery of our drinks, she asked if we needed anything else to drink. “No,” my friend and I replied. She responded by telling us of some of the exciting drink specials.
We then asked for a minute to consult the menu. She gave us nine seconds and returned like a specter, “Need more time?”
“Yes,” we said.
She gave us another three seconds. “Ready yet? Can I get you anything? Do you like syrup? What creamer do you prefer? What is your blood type?”
It was a barrage of questions enough to make Socrates blush.
We ordered something, anything, just to give the poor lass a break.
Before our food turned up, she did. A dozen or so times. She offered to refill full drinks, double-up our straws, or perform some hibachi stuff if we so desired. We didn’t, so she juggled knives anyway.
Our first encounter was a puzzling thing. It could have been annoying, save for the spectacular artistic consistency to it. Somehow it became stylish like plaid does every decade or so—there was a sturdy dependableness to being interrupted that often that became, at a point, comforting. I left her a sizeable tip and expected to see her, like a shadow, following me out of the restaurant. In the car, I checked the rearview mirror, unconvinced she wasn’t back there. At night I woke up with a headache and wondered if she had been the cause and expecting her to hand deliver me medicinal remedy, some orange juice, and a litany of suggestions about how to properly treat head traumas of varying sort.
Naturally, I returned to the restaurant. I’ll admit, the impulse is a bit sinister. I’m like the early circus-goer who, unlike a razor, can’t keep away from the bearded lady. I had doubt in my heart too. Surely this wasn’t the way this young woman always was? We caught her the day she fell in love or fell out of the back of a truck and banged her head or something.
On the second visit, I went alone. I had some work to do, so I took a laptop. I didn’t really have time to get settled before the object of my curiosity apparated before me. She welcomed me, offered coffee, offered water, offered orange juice, offered something with kale in it, offered orange juice again, offered me an opportunity to refinance my home loan, offered me a chance to order, offered to let me think about it, offered, by her actions, not to. I took one of everything and got a mortgage rate in the fives.
Then she boomeranged away. And back.
“You working on something?” she asked.
I told her I was.
She left again. And came back.
“Sending email?” she asked as I sent an email.
“Oh. Need a top-off on orange juice?”
After consuming copious gallons of breakfast beverages and some French toast that tasted more like American bread soaked in beaten eggs and milk and then fried (but was bon all the same), I left the way I came in, but altogether different. Never had I been given so much attention. Completely unneeded care and attention. I drove away thinking, “Wow. I’m going to need a bathroom.”
The third time I went back was yesterday. I wasn’t even going to eat. I dropped a friend off for a lunch meeting he had with another coworker. We were early so I went in to keep him company until the scheduled party arrived. A fact I relayed to this same plucky server and a message that apparently didn’t compute. The conversation went something like this:
Server: “Do you need more time to look at the menu?”
Me: “Nope. I’m actually not even eating. Another guy is. When he comes, I’m leaving.”
Server: “Does he need a menu? Like, for when he gets here?”
Me: “Um, he can just use mine.”
Server: “I’ll bring one out for him. Did you decide what you’d like to order or need any suggestions?”
Me: . . .
She left. I think. She maybe was just hiding. But the next time she popped up, she had a handful of creamers.
“Do you all have all the creamers you desire?”
That last word is the reason I recall this. I desire fame and riches and eternal bliss. Never till this moment had I known that I was allowed to pitch my desires so low as creamer selection. Especially seeing how I was drinking only the water she had refilled about a centimeter to brimming four or five times already.
We both declined any creamers, so she showed us each one the way Barker’s Beauties used to highlight a set of skis or fancy watch. Then, and this was the most memorable part, she shot each creamer one-by-one into the little creamer receptacle across the table from her. She shot nine or ten of them. Made one. So we were all scrambling to gather them up, laughing, and forming an inseparable bond whilst discussing in further detail food I most certainly would not be ordering that day.
I’m not sure what to do with any of this, and I’ve never had so much orange juice in my life. But as I walked out the restaurant, my replacement diner came in. We shook hands and I said with competent reassurance, “Have you had a chance to look at the menu?”
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