Updated: Nov 15, 2020
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
Pulling into The Breakfast Place parking lot at 6:30 on the dot, I saw my old friend Chucky, who I was meeting, strolling to the restaurant’s front door. I had almost caught up with him by the time he sat down in a booth very close to the entrance. Clapping a hand to his neck and squeezing fondly, I immediately slid into the seat across from him.
“Chucky, what’s up?!” I grinned. “How’s everything?”
“Rob, glad you could make it.” He grabbed the menus from the table rack and passed one my way. “Well, I do have several things I want to run by you, but before we get into all of that, how’s the family?”
We chatted for a few minutes, catching up on big moments in our own lives over the past several months. Soon, a tall young man approached our booth. “Good morning, gentlemen,” he smiled. “My name is Derek, and I will be taking care of you. Can I get you started with something to drink?”
“Derek, good to see you, as always,” Chucky shook his hand. “A diet Coke for me.”
Derek nodded then looked at me. “I would like a cup of coffee and tomato juice if you have it.”
“Sure thing,” he replied brightly. “I’ll be right back with your drinks.”
I glanced back to Chucky. “I’m assuming you know the waiter?”
“Just from here,” he said before laughing. “I’m here at least twice a week. You know how much I like breakfast. I think he started a couple of months ago. He’s nice young guy, just graduated with honors from Conley High School, and will be starting at State in the fall. Seems to be very intelligent with a bright future ahead of him.”
In less than a minute, Chucky had his diet coke, and I had a cup of coffee…and a water. My eyebrows shot to my brow.
“Are you ready to order?” Derek asked, directing the question to me. I had forgotten to bring in my reading glasses, and was trying to read the menu, moving it as far away from my face as my arms would stretch in hopes of bringing the blurry words into focus.
Realizing it was a lost cause, I put the menu down and asked, “Do you have a Western?”
Derek was puzzled. “What’s a Western?”
“It’s an omelet that typically has tomatoes, peppers, onions, and ham.”
Derek replied, “No, we don’t have a Western, but I can put in a ‘Build Your Own’ omelet.”
“Okay,” I said, satisfied, “I would like an omelet with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cheese.” I was surprised when he just continued to stand with his hands behind his back. Isn’t he going to write my order down?
He nodded. “Got it. So, a vegetarian?”
I stared at him for a long second and then said, “Yes, if that’s what it’s called, and I would also like salsa added to it, please.
“And what sides, sir?”
“I would like bacon and grits.”
His eyes lifted as if to stare at the ceiling and his mouth worked silently. I realized he was making sure he had remembered my order. I cleared my throat. “Are you sure you don’t want to write this down? I don’t mind repeating it if you need me to.”
“No sir,” he chirped, tapping the side of his head, “I’ve got it.” He immediately turned to Chucky. “And, if I’m remembering correctly, the French toast meal for you?”
“Derek, you’re good,” Chucky grinned.
“All right, gentlemen,” he began, “I’ll put this in and it will be out shortly. Anything else I can get for you?”
“A little tomato juice, please,” I responded with extra inflection, but by the look on Derek’s face I could tell he didn’t remember me asking for it the first time.
After fifteen minutes or so, Derek walked up carrying a tray with our breakfast. He placed Chucky’s French toast in front of him, then set my breakfast in front of me. An omelet with grits and two pieces of sausage.
“Everything look okay, gentlemen?” he inquired.
After scrutinizing my plate wondering what happened to my bacon, where my tomato juice was, and contemplating if it was worth it to even mention the mistake to him, he noted my empty coffee mug.
“Would you like a refill on the coffee, sir?”
“Ah,” I snapped into focus, leaving the daydream of bacon behind, “yes, thank you.”
After pouring the coffee, he smiled at us both. “I’ll check back with you two in a few minutes.”
“He’s such a polite young man,” Chucky said, watching him leave us to check in on a young family in the middle of the room.
“A polite young man with memory problems,” I grumbled. “He gave me sausage instead of bacon and I still don’t have any tomato juice.”
Brushing my sarcasm aside, Chucky asked “So, how’s your omelet?”
My fork sliced into the omelet to reveal nothing but salsa. “Great,” I muttered sarcastically. “I knew he should have written my order down.”
Chucky eyed my plate from across the table, “Hmm, that looks like a salsa omelet from here.”
Taking a bite, I replied mid-chew, “Tastes like one, too.”
He chuckled half-heartedly. “I can get his attention if you want. He can get you another one, what you actually ordered.”
“Thanks, but no, I don’t have time for a do-over.” I shook my head. “I knew he should have written down my order.”
Chucky shoveled the French toast into his mouth, eyes glittering slightly. “He didn’t have any problem with mine.”
“Of course he didn’t,” I responded dryly. “You order the same thing, like twice a week, right?” I tapped the side of my head. “Your order is engrained into his memory.”
After we had finished our breakfasts, one perfectly fine, the other severely lacking, Derek returned and asked if we were ready for the check. “Yes,” I blinked. “I will take care of it.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Chucky offered as Derek left to retrieve the bill, “I invited you, not to mention they completely messed up you order.”
“Well, they would not have messed it up if he had written it down,” I responded. “I’m going to try to turn this into teaching moment for our waiter.”
When Derek returned with the check, I took it from him and instantly bid him to stay. “Derek, first let me say you have been attentive, polite, and respectful, and I appreciate that.”
He beamed. “Thank you, sir.”
“Now, do you remember earlier when I asked if you needed me to repeat my breakfast order so you could write it down, especially since it was a ‘build your own’ omelet, and you told me ‘I’ve got it?’”
“I ate the breakfast I was served, which, as stated on the bill, was an omelet with salsa, sausage and grits. But my actual order was an omelet with tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheese, and salsa, with a side of bacon and grits and tomato juice.”
Derek’s face reddened. “I am so sorry, sir. I will take your meal off the bill.”
“No, that’s not necessary, but I would like for you to get a pad and write down what I’m about to tell you, as it will aide you now and well into the future.” He scrambled to yank out the pen and paper from his apron. My eyes widened in utter amazement. If he had the pen and paper the entire time, why not use it? My brain responded inaudibly with a frustrated, ARGH!
His eyes lifted to meet mine, signaling to me that he was ready. “Derek, always remember, no matter how sharp your mind is…
* * * * * * *
THE PALEST OF INK IS BRIGHTER THAN THE GREATEST OF MEMORIES
* * * * * * *
*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!