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So, this page begins my chronicling of my misadventures waitressing. I started a little over two years ago at Steak ‘n Shake and life has been a blur since then. Despite what some people may think, SnS is really a legitimate way of earning some quick cash. I am using it to hold back the college loans until I go full time in a few years. The past couple summers, I was working nights, but right now, I work day shifts mostly. Either 11am to 5pm, or 11am to 8pm. And let me tell you, being an “8 o’clocker” is no joke. That’s lunch rush and dinner rush right there. Get ready for some moolah if you’re any good.

The point is, working food service, you run into some pretty interesting people. It’s hard to tell what’s more interesting: the staff or the clientele? I think it depends on the day.

Today’s story is about discretion and whether or not old men have it.

I'm a pretty serious server.

I’m a pretty serious server.

So, if you look to the right, you’ll see a horrendous duck-faced selfie of me. (I am notorious for taking selfies. I try to control it.) My hair is actually a bit lighter because the light wasn’t quite hitting it. There’s a reference point for the story. 😉

I was taking a carry-out order at the counter, like ya do, for an older man probably mid-sixties. He was tanned with glasses and a nice watch. He ordered a triple steakburger and a shooter with two patties (who does that?!) and a large coke. A server’s mind can recall many things… Sometimes hours after they’re needed. Whoops.

Well, I remained up at the counter for a few minutes in order to take care of some people cashing out after their meals. The man was sitting patiently at one of the stools and after I’d finished, he addresses me.

“So are you a strawberry blonde, or what?” I’ve mostly been referred to as a blond, especially during the summertime, so I agreed.

“I guess so.” I shrugged and smiled at him.

That’s what my first wife was. Strawberry blonde.

I don’t know about you, but this made me feel uncomfortable.  I wondered if I looked like his wife did and how many wives he’d had. I hoped just two.

“But she’s been gone a long time. Long time.” He sort of fiddled with his watch with a hidden frown on his face.

For some reason, this just struck me as the most awkward thing ever, so I asked him if he wanted me to go ahead and get his coke and he said, “Yeah, you can get it, I’ll go ahead and start drinking it down.” He sounded energetic enough, but his smile was wistful. Jeez, dude. You okay? I went and got the coke from drive-thru, where we keep the big cups and brought it back.

The man gave me what was left on his gift card ($0.44), which he used to pay. He also handed me a handful of change and said that was all he had on him. “I’m always getting on my wife for money, but . . .”

A person doesn’t get a lot of tips for carry-outs, so I didn’t care, but what was awkward was how the man was slightly pitiful and I was the first-wife look-alike, I guess. The strawberry blonde.

I was able to finish rolling my silverware and leave, so I didn’t see the man leave, and that was the end of it. For me, the most interesting thing about these encounters is to try to see exactly who someone is by just the little things. The way their clothes might be wrinkled or pressed and whether or not there’s a glint in their eyes or a hollowness. Now and again, you learn something about yourself too, by how others perceive you. At least I got some spare change for my Batman piggy bank from this one.