A Watering Hole

Recently I had several options as to where I might have breakfast, mostly fast food establishments and even at the hospital which might have been my best choice, but I sought something less ‘clinical’ so I ended up off a busy boulevard at a place I have visited often in the past, the epitome of fast food to be sure.
Fortunately I happened to be next in line so the preparation of my meal took mere minutes; I was still on my first cup of coffee when it  arrived.  But the food or the service is not the topic here. The customers proved to be what interested me.
When I entered, I was faced with a group at one of the front booths, all older men who had on caps- one similar to mine- and each uniformly dressed, casual.  Unusual and somewhat surprising to me was the fact there were **active smokers seated there carrying on a lively unheard conversation, at times with exaggerated body movements.
The empty booth ahead of me was soon taken by a mixed racial couple, both seemingly in the retired ranks.  He seemed to be the dominant of the two since he was the one who did most of the talking, ordering and sharing information from the printed menu at the table.  Apparently they were not rushed because they were still drinking coffee when I left.
A couple came in dressed very casually and sat at a both near me, but apparently she was not satisfied with the location, maybe because it was near the door, so they moved alongside the windows facing the ongoing traffic.  Evidently they were locals since she addressed the group I initially saw when I arrived.
Then there was another regular who arrived wearing his UNC cap and carrying his folded morning newspaper who seated himself hear the cash register.  He seemed to enjoy the solitude and the space which enabled him to spread his newspaper for easy reading.
Another interesting couple arrived and seated themselves at a table for two just across from my seating. The lady, middle aged but was wearing a hooded sweat shirt with the words FLORIDA KEYS MARATHON. I wondered if she had actually participated.  The two perhaps not accustomed to eating in this dining chain spent several minutes reviewing the menu and finally ordered the house special.
The in-house traffic was not demanding and a good thing since there were only two uniformed employees on duty. I assume one was the cook, but there was no particular wait time for the orders to be served.
Although this was not a drive in, two ladies came in and placed takeout orders.  There must be a story there.
I admire short order cooks.  All orders have to be fast and accurate and usually from one cook who somehow has to keep the grill going with several orders at a time with more coming , a sure indication of an organized mind.
While waiting, a young man came in unnoticed until I observed that he was busy filling out some kind of form, I assume a job application.  His dress was conventional except it seemed his trousers were being worn for the first time, starched and pressed enough to impress an interviewer.  To me there was a need for another cook; however I left before the conclusion of his visit.
And the food was filling as were the memorable characters who shared a meal with me.
**Now about the smoking…since banned by management.
Bill Lee, PO Box 128,
Hamer, SC 29547

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