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Journey to Perfection: a Waffle Hut Story
Each week I visit the Waffle Hut, conveniently located between McDonald’s and the Gas Station. My ultimate goal is to become manager of this Waffle Hut, giving me total control over the small town of three hundred where it rests. I do not have a job there. I am above waiting tables. My only desire is to make the Waffle Hut absolutely perfect during my secret weekly skill-building exercises with the staff. It is only a matter of time before they will recognize my almighty talents and hail me as their new leader. Someone people will look up to and fear at the same time. That’s how good I am.
A waitress visited my table. A new one. Oh boy. “Good morning, Sally,” I said, reading her nametag out of the corner of my eye. She was unfazed. I secretly expressed my joy that she remembered she was wearing a nametag.
“What would you like to drink today?” she asked in a sweet voice. Darn, she already has the voice down. Without the satisfaction of correcting this lovely woman, I played my card.
“I would like one medium decaf latte with chocolate sprinkles and a cherry, extra foam please, served in a Waffle Hut collector’s cup with extra napkins, along with a tall glass of water and a small glass of low-acidic orange juice, no lemon slice with the water, please. I’m allergic to lemons.” I watched in amazement as she wrote my order down, almost faster than the words could fall out of my mouth.
“Got it,” she said, and walked away. My jaw dropped. Her first week and she’s already perfect! From where did this god-like angel descend? She’s ruining my management opportunities. I secretly hoped that she would put a lemon in my water.
She returned in under two minutes, getting the order exactly right. She even gave me a straw! It’s time for a test. “Excuse me, ma’am? There’s no lemon with my water.”
“Oh, I’m sorry! I thought you said you were allergic!” she reached behind her and pulled a lemon out of nowhere. “There you go, sir! Have you decided what you’ll be having yet, or would you like me to come back in a bit?”
I bought some time by taking a sip from my latte. Delicious. Darn. But perhaps she had little knowledge of the menu. “Yes, I’ll have the Triple-Batter Butter-Waffles, but I have a meeting in twenty minutes so I’ll need them fast.” Triple-Batter Butter-Waffles take at least thirty minutes to prepare. Victory is mine.
“I’m sorry sir, but we had that removed from the menu two days ago. Is there something else you would like?”
“Something that’ll get your goody two shoes fired,” I muttered.
“Nothing.” I said quickly. “I’ll have whatever you want to serve me.”
“Okay then.” She smiled, took my menu and walked away.
I had her now. If she brings me a waffle with nuts, I’ll say I’m allergic to nuts. If she brings me a muffin, I’ll complain about getting a muffin in a Waffle Hut. If she gives me French Toast, I’ll question her patriotism. All I had to do was wait and drink my delicious latte. Oh, what a latte.
She came by later and refilled my water. Finally, a misstep. I waited until she had turned away. “Excuse me,” I said, “I didn’t ask for my water to be refilled.” I said no more. That left her hanging. I saw her hesitate. Then she smiled.
“Well, it’s free, so you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy!”
“Hold it right there!” I cried desperately, “I’m an environmentalist, and I’m not thirsty! This water will go to waste!” She replaced her real smile with a fake one. I almost had her.
“Would you like me to take it off of your hands?”
“No. I want you to drink it. So it won’t go to waste.” I did my best to appear even more business-like than usual.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Yes, yes, yes! And she did it. She actually did it! Victory! “You know, ma’am,” I said in a serious tone, “That’s very unsanitary.” I crossed my arms over my massive paunch.
“I know,” she laughed. “Did you really want me to do that?” Too bubbly, I thought. I was ready to walk out as I did every week, when a nasty idea crept into my mind. I uttered the single most shocking phrase that any waiter could hear.
“I’d like to speak to your manager.” I saw the blood drain from her face. The corners of her mouth dropped. Her brows curled into a frown.
“Sir, he doesn’t…”
“Bring him to me.” She did as she was told. This was turning out to be a pretty good day. And I got to meet the manager. I had never actually met the manager before. I’d never thought to ask. I guess the latte was a brain booster. I leaned back and gurgled the delicious drink between my teeth, trying to contain my joy.
Then I saw the manager’s shadow from around the corner of the booth, coming ever closer to me. I heard the exasperated whispers of the waitress, trying to smooth things over before her eventual demise. I had waited so long for this encounter. I was even wearing a tie. The shadow grew larger. I squirmed in anticipation. Almost there. I straightened my shoulders. I wiped the foam from my mouth. I pushed aside my glass of orange juice. Then he rounded the corner. He carried a perfectly normal waffle, no toppings, no butter, and my own choice of syrup.
“Barry? Is there a problem?” He smiled and hobbled over to me, a cane in his left hand.
“Uh, no… I just…” I didn’t know what to say. I watched my grandfather’s kindly, delicate hand place the waffle on the table. The waitress stared at me, looking smug. “Uh, I forgot.”
“Really?” Grandfather’s eyes stared deep into my face. I could feel myself beginning to blush.
“Actually, I have a meeting to go to, so…”
“I thought the meeting was in twenty minutes,” said the waitress.
“Oh. Well, I have another meeting before that meeting, so I think I’ll…” Grandfather squinted at me. The waitress crossed her arms. “Goodbye!” I squeezed out of the booth as fast as I could, knocking over the orange juice with my stomach. “Sorry…” I hobbled awkwardly out the front door and threw myself onto the car. I stayed there for a while, breathing heavily, my eyes squinted shut.
“Hello, Barry.” My eyes flew open.
“Grandpa!” I sputtered.
“That was a nice little show you put on back there.” He eased his skinny, elderly arm around my shoulders.
“Sorry again. Listen, I’ve really got to go…”
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING TO MY RESTAURANT?” He spun around and pinned me against the hood of the car. I looked up at this old man’s face, strapped for air, and all I could do was let out a little whine. “You sound like a chicken, boy! Give me an answer!”
“I was just… eating?”
Grandpa stared real hard at me then. He leaned in so close, I could smell the syrup in his breath. “Barry, I’ve seen you coming to my place for a long time now. Every week you’re looking for trouble. You’ve harassed my waiters, you’ve complained about napkin folds, marshmallows, coffee stains, everything. What did I do? Nothing. I just sat by and watched. I didn’t know you, Barry. Now tell me what you’re playing at.”
I paused. What was I going to tell him? Should I reveal my plan? Maybe I could shake it off somehow, omit certain truths. “I wanted… I was practicing for…” I chose my words carefully, “…a job. Here. A really… good job.”
“Yes!” I nodded my head.
Grandpa smiled. “Well why didn’t you say so?”
I have a job at the Waffle Hut now. I’m the garbage boy.