I loved that job. Everything was on clear display in that diner. It was built like a dessert case–long and narrow with tall, wrap-around, plate-glass windows. As you approached from the street, you could watch the cooks in a frenzy preparing the food in their splattered aprons their arms hastily whipping the air into a froth. As you pulled in the lot, you could see the waitresses in their orange polyester dresses and
creamy white aprons with their hair loosely puffed into buns and plates lining their arms like ridges on a tender pie crust. The customers would be
sprinkled gingerly about the room seated in mocha vinyl booths and on cracked muffin-top stools beside vanilla laminate counters. The first half of the wall behind the counter was lined with coffee pots and coffee cups, juice glasses and revolving toasters toasting slices of bread a loaf at a time. The second half of the wall was lined end to end with a giant pastry case filled with a yummy assortment of coconut cream, boston cream, cherry, blueberry, dutch apple, key lime and lemon meringue pies; as well as, fudge, carrot, bundt, angel food, german chocolate and black forest cakes.
It was the kind of place where everyone was called hon’ or sugar in a tone of kinship. Our manager was Butch, a young Vietnam vet. He was a surface-only bad-boy inclined to wear tight beet-red polyester shirts to off-set off his muscles and showcase his long brown hair. He was as popular with the young waitresses and female customers as devil’s food cake. Our veteran waitresses were Billie and Hank. Billie was a woman of substance and a tad spicy, the fun kind, like pumpkin pie. Hank, however, was more like pecan pie a bit tough and nutty on the outside and yet all sweet and gooey on the inside. Billie was Butch’s mom and Hank his aunt.
It was the kind of place where the waitresses leaned on the counter as they took your order or rested their hand on your shoulder as they poured your coffee or even sat down beside you in your booth, if it was slow, and chat with you a bit. It was the kind of place with lots of regulars whose orders were called out to the cooks the minute their cars were spotted pulling into the lot. It was the kind of place where I, the new girl, might escort you to your seat, then flip your over-easy eggs and side them with grits, before checking you out at the register for I was a simple pound-cake topped and served as requested. I want to thank y’all for coming. Have a nice day now. Oh, and hon’, don’t forget your pie to-go.
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