A cellphone shot...
Perhaps it is the crossroads of society or the melting pot of the universe - - the diversity of customers at a Waffle House is always unique.
In the crowded parking lot sits a newer model Mercedes, an older 1990’s Ford F-150, a minivan, two Harley Davidsons… just to name a few of the vehicles.
Inside you see some customers wearing ripped up jeans as if they are attempting to make a fashion statement. You see people wearing ties and dressed in their Sunday best. You see those who look to be construction workers taking a short break while enjoying some good cooking. All backgrounds, all colors and all walks of life uniting for one reason. Food.
At the cash register is an expectant mother with her son who looks to be about 5. An older couple sitting at the counter look down at the little boy as if to remember when they were where she is today. “Are you going to be a big brother to a sister or a brother,” they ask the child. Mom chimes in with a smile and says, “He will be a big brother.” The stranger, in his slow drawn out country slur then explains the importance of protecting his future sister to the little boy.
In the kitchen area, I see a man working whom I recognize that lives in one of the nearby motels. He is making conversation with customers about the football game he watched on TV last night. “How did Virginia do,” he asked a customer wearing a West Virginia ball cap. The customer responds, “They pulled it off against Kansas.” The employee then says, “I grew up in Nashville – I’m always pulling for Vandy.” It was nice to see this man, who I met when he was at his lowest point 3 years ago living in the nearby weekly rental, in his element of people. He was smiling, living and working with others in a way that looked to give him that one little word that so few experience… joy.
By a window seat, two women who appear to be a couple sit quietly. They are enjoying overcooked and crunchy bacon, just as they requested. They later make their way to the cash register telling their waitress, "Thank you." The waitress lights up as if no one has told her those two words of praise since her shift started at 4 in the morning.
An older gentleman who looks to be in his eighties sits by himself and orders a waffle. “Make it overdone – burn it,” he says. I can only imagine why? Perhaps his late wife once cooked breakfast for him before he hit the tractor each day. Maybe she burned the waffles daily on accident and he wanted to remember her and the lifetime they cherished?
Burned waffles… An entire study was once conducted on taste memories and how there is a factual link between the brain and the fork. Well okay, perhaps not a link between the brain and the fork, but an area of the brain that can encode a specific taste and tie it to a time and place of where it was previously experienced. It is called “Food Memory.” The study was done at the University of Haifa in Israel.
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food give you their heart.” - Cesar Chavez, American Civil Rights Activist (1927-1993)