Wednesday, May 05, 2021

The Classic Waffle House Experience

I love Dixie and I love Waffle House. That's all there is to it. Every time I go to a Waffle House for breakfast, I get the same thing - waffle, sausage and coffee. And then I get the secret ingredient: the people.

Le Chateau avec Waffles.

Yesterday morning, I went to the Waffle House in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I sat down at the counter, my favorite place, but I was all alone there. That didn't last. A young man with a motorcycle helmet sat down one seat away. He couldn't have been more than 20 and had tats everywhere, including his neck. He looked like life had been pretty rough on him.

I asked him how he was doing and he told me he was really happy. He had just landed a second job. He was working at a restaurant whose name I can't recall, and his new one was working on a landscape crew. He was genuinely excited to get a gig doing landscape in the coming Arkansas summer. He opened his wallet and showed me the reason. It was a photo of his 2-year-old son. "I'm doing it for him," he said. "I got to take care of him." I didn't look for a ring or ask about mom. That would have been gauche.

A black family came in, mom, dad and ~7-year-old daughter. There were no booths available, so they stood and waited right behind us. Daughter was wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt. This being the South, it's OK to be friendly. I told mom that it had been a while since I'd seen a TMNT shirt as our youngest was at least 17 years older than her. Mom, young enough to be our daughter, beamed. "I grew up on them!"

Tat boy moved over to sit next to me and cheerfully offered counter seats to the family. They smiled warmly and said they really wanted a booth.

We resumed our conversation. I told him my theory that fatherhood makes a man. He blurted out, "I didn't have a father." I smiled and said, "Well, you're doing a fine job of it now." In my mind, I thought, "Now there's a man's man for you." He didn't look like much on the outside, but, by God, he was John Wayne on the inside.

We talked a bit more. He told me he was building a small motorcycle for his son to share his passion for riding. "I know he's not old enough, but he will be soon." It was beautiful.

I finished and paid. As I left, I told him, "You're a good man, son."

He laughed and replied, "No matter what people say!"

I patted him on the back and said, "You can't trust everything you read on bathroom walls, now."

We both laughed.

And that's a Waffle House experience. It's good to be back in Dixie.


Ohioan@Heart said...

I really don’t like Waffle House. I’ve done the ‘experience’, but both places allowed smoking and it seemed like I was eating from an ashtray. If there are any non-smoking ones, I might feel differently.

If you get a bit further north (Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia) you might find a Bob Evans Restaurant. They have, and I will brook no argument, the best sausage gravy and biscuits. The biscuits are just very good, but the sausage gravy is heavenly.

Mostly Nothing said...

Great story KT. Provides hope for the future, that I don't have here.

I'm a huge B&G fan. Never had it until I did some road trips working for the moving company during college. My son picked up on it at an earlier age, it became the defacto breakfast all through high school on game days for basketball.

K T Cat said...

Y'all need to come down to Catican Bayou. I'll fix you up some biscuits and gravy that will blow you away.

After that, you will die of a heart attack.

Mostly Nothing said...

It's worth it.

Ohioan@Heart said...

KT - I like living dangerously, and since we all have to go sometime, I may have to take you up on that offer. Oh, and I've been known to have Biscuits and Gravy for dinner (basically when I get to a Bob Evans I have their B&G, regardless of which meal of the day it is).

MN - As a native Ohioan, I grew up with B&G being just one of those standard breakfast items. They are (were?) very common at breakfast buffets (do those still exist in this time of CoViD?).