Micropoetry Monday: For Labor Day

Labor Days

She felt that waiting tables was beneath her,
that working behind a register did not
utilize her learned skills and innate talents,
never knowing that the smiley face she drew
in whipped cream on a child’s chocolate chip pancake
or the few extra cherries she put in their Shirley Temple Tantrum
made their day,
or that it was her cashiering job
that ultimately paid for those little extras
that made her day.

While At Work

The diner is all aglow—
the chrome gleams like a new nickel,
and the blue-green vinyl sparkles;
above the booths,
the glass cubes,
like ice in igloos,
shine like halos.
Red and blue neon light provide ambiance
to this retro tableau,
brightening in the burgeoning twilight—
like pink ripening into lavender,
and then violet with stars in her eyes.
The smell of Greek spices permeate the charged atmosphere,
along with plates of steaming shrimp and crawfish savannah,
the special tonight—
part of Cajun Americana.

On the deck outside,
a family of four chows down on Scenic burgers and fries,
washing them down with black-and-white shakes—
their own happy ending
after the one they’d just seen—
of Elsa and Anna dancing on the screen.

Miss Carrie and her husband come in and sit in their usual booth,
and upon sight,
I put on a pot of fresh coffee—
the last of the night.
They sit across from each other,
he with his book,
she with her Kindle,
while the aroma of regular brew filters through the air,
salted with heavy humidity,
peppered with lively conversation and dashed with a bit of Southern flair.

The pie case is lit up like a beacon—
coconut or chocolate cream,
and other confectionary dreams.

The whir of the milkshake machine blends and beats
with the hum of the orange juice machine.
Nalia, the manager, whose charm bracelet of
copper links of gold and silver coins from all over the world,
clink like chimes against the register as she unrolls the change.

Riffraff are rare—
like Italian dressing in a Greek restaurant.

Mr. Wilson comes in,
all smiles in Mom jeans and a well-worn tee—
something about a 5-K run in Tallahassee.
Sweet tea to start,
banana pudding to finish,
with a thirty-percent tip a fabulous finish.
He greets each of us by name,
and on the TV above the fountain station,
the Saints (or whoever) is winning the game.
As I smile and nod and talk about the weather or whatever,
I wonder if he has bodies buried under his bed.
It’s never the jerks with their odd quirks,
but always the bland-o-bill everyman.
Oh, but I’m letting my imagination run away again.

Coach is at the marble counter,
chatting it up with Barb,
while she works through her mounds of whipped cream—
something she likes on everything,
and we all wonder if this is one of their little trysts.
“Hello, Sarah #1,” he says as Barb raises her spoon in greeting,
and I smile,
for I’m the only Sarah now,
but I still like to hear it.
He asks me about my baby girl,
whom he saw in the store a day I was off.
I am charmed that he remembers.

The Olivers aren’t here tonight with their two boys,
Russ and Wright.
They know them all in this little enclave within the community.
Sometimes, I tend wonder at the lives of others.

A group of college kids take up a corner in the back,
and I remember them from my overnights at the drugstore.
God bless them, they’re easy to please,
and in an airplane made of a coloring mat,
they leave a pile of money inside this bit of oragami,
with a note, thanking me for the awesome floats.

I take a quick break,
and a bite of grilled catfish—
someone’s mistake.
A squeeze of lemon
and a little bit of char,
and I’m back on the floor.

I go back out to check on the family—
the Mormons out for a good time.
A cool breeze blows in from the Bay,
and it’s a thrill to my scalp and skin.
I can still hear the echoes of laughter—
the kind that comes from deep within.
A napkin flips and folds in the wind,
ketchup has dried on the wood—
remnants of a fun-filled night
left in the dwindling light.

This is just a slice of those who come to the Shiny Diney,
known as Scenic 90 Café—
just past Nancy’s Haute Affairs,
the blue building across from Pensacola Bay.

Not the most important job, I know—
I’m not saving lives,
I’m probably not even changing them,
but I give them a Coke and a smile,
something to come back to,
something to look forward to for another while.

!@#$ Customers Say (or Ask or Do)

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  1. Saying you’re ready to order, then proceed to choose your sides like it’s the biggest decision of your life.
  2. Ordering black coffee.  (Uh, that’s why there’s cream and sugar on the table.)
  3. Making your own lemonade with extra lemons and the sugar on the table.
  4. Saying, “We shouldn’t have to pay for an extra (insert sauce, dressing, etc., here).”  (Do you think extra sides of ranch grow on trees?)
  5. Assuming that your waitress thinks you can’t afford to pay for your meal when she informs you of an extra charge if you order an extra dressing.  (Knock that chip off your shoulder!  I hate to have a surprise charge on my check, because the choice to resist and not be charged was robbed from me.)
  6. Saying your food is fine when the waitress asks, but then complain about it later to the manager, so we get the business (as Wally Cleaver would say) about not following up on our tables.
  7. Eating all the meat out of your meal and then saying it was bad and asking for a refund.
  8. Asking for something extra and then wasting it.
  9. Asking your waitress to bring something, and then asking them to bring something else when they come back.
  10. Asking if we have any gluten-free items.  (No, this is the South–we serve unhealthy food.)
  11. Ordering something not on the menu.
  12. Saying you ordered one thing, when you ordered another.  (Love it when their table mates stick up for the waitress.)
  13. Coming in for dessert and leaving a dollar, even though you saw the server make your shakes and ice cream sundaes (which are a pain in the kazoo).
  14. Telling your waitress how bad the food and/or service was last time.
  15. Asking, “Are you new?”, because the waitress doesn’t know the answer to some obscure question.
  16. Acting like a brand-new waitress is supposed to know you, because you are a regular.
  17. Asking what the soup of the day is, and then making a face when the waitress tells you.
  18. Continue talking to the people at your table when the waitress approaches to take your order.
  19. Sitting at a table for twenty minutes before saying you haven’t been waited on.  (This is why restaurants have hostesses.  No way in Hades would I wait more than a few minutes before saying something.)
  20. Fighting over the check so the waitress basically has to toss it in the center of the table and let everyone fight over it.
  21. Arguing with the people at your table while your waitress is trying to take your order.
  22. Asking your waitress if another waitress has a boyfriend.
  23. Getting pissed if your waitress asks you to repeat something, and then proceed to do so, very loudly.
  24. Asking your waitress about what’s good and then when she suggests something, ordering the opposite.
  25. Asking your waitress if they’ve tried such and such, and then, if she tells you she hasn’t, saying they should.  (I will NEVER eat an oyster, and I should not just to suit you.)
  26. Trying to order off the kids’ menu.  (Don’t be a cheapskate.  Restaurants don’t make any money off kids’ menus.)
  27. Letting your kids make a horrendous mess and then leaving it (and what’s more, letting them destroy/open up all the sugar packets).
  28. Not hardly drinking your beverage halfway through the meal, and then sucking it down in a minute flat and shaking your empty glass of ice like a maraca.
  29. Making fun of how your waitress pronounces mayonnaise, even though it is the grammatically correct way.
  30. Making a deal about your burger having mayo on it, when it says it comes with mayo on the menu.
  31. Stealing your waitress’s pen.  (That’s why you only get crappy pens.)