Every once in a while you encounter someone that is just plain nice and trying so hard to do their job as well as it can be done that it can be startling. The Chic Fil A up the street does a ton of business and they really train their people well. Maybe too well, because you know what they are going to say before they say it. “My pleasure” is their favorite group way of saying “you are welcome”. But they want to come across as nice and I never have to check the sack before driving away.
I ate at a restaurant on Mulberry Street in Macon often over the years before they sold out. The father and mother and daughter ran the place and waited tables and enjoyed a big lunch business with the courthouse crowd and Judge Owens, the federal judge, was often in there as well. Theirs was a cafeteria where you went through the line and got the “meat and two” deal. The joke was that the father, who took the orders and filled the plates, counted the peas so as to give you no more than you were supposed to get. But, they were full of diners every day.
The food was generally good and you could get some good vegetables, corn bread and iced tea. It was served with the rudest of attitudes, especially the mother, but that was part of the reason people went there. What will they do next?
I usually did not order dessert but one day the mother was waiting my table and stopped as I was about to finish my last pea and asked if I wanted some pie. They had a coconut merengue pie so I took that.
The lady came by to give me the bill and asked me if I liked the pie. I told her how good it was and then, I made a serious mistake. It could have happened to anyone. I asked her if they used “Edwards” Pies.
“Edwards Pies” she yelled at the top of her voice. Still yelling, she says, “I’ll have you know that I was here at 4:00 AM cooking these pies. We cook all of our pies right here”! Everyone in the place was cracking up and I felt like I may have just run over someone’s pet.
On another occasion, she was cleaning off a table in a booth where 4 or 5 men were finishing up. One of the guys had ordered a slice of chocolate pie and there was about half of it left on the plate. She asked him if there was something wrong with the pie and he responded, jokingly, that it was the worst pie he had ever eaten. That was a mistake on his part.
She sat the tray with all the plates down on their table and picked up the plate with the remaining chocolate pie on it with one hand and she took a fork from the tray with the other. She picked up a chunk of the chocolate pie, and threw it right at the guy and it hit him right in the middle of his pretty white shirt! The whole place burst into laughter, including the guy who now had pie all over his shirt and something to talk about when he got home! How she could get away with that kind of stuff, I don’t know.
One day I was in the Swainsboro, Ga. area. I had worked all day and had missed lunch and I was starving as I started back home to Sandy Point, about 108 miles away. I was just at the edge of town when I saw Frank’s Country Kitchen. I had eaten at Frank’s several times and I decided to see if they were still serving. There was not a car on the parking lot and it was about 2:30. They served a “meat and two” and you could get a third item for a little extra.
I walked in and Frank was at the register situated right by the door. I asked if they were still serving and he said they had not put up the food yet so I was in luck. He seated me and went and got me a waitress, who was in the back.
A very nice lady about 50 years old came bouncing over to my table with a menu in hand, a silver ware set up, and a big smile. When she spoke, she had an obvious speech impediment that I took to be tongue tie. It made her a little difficult to understand but when she spoke loud enough and I listened intently, we were able to get my order in and things went well. Good veggies, cornbread, and iced tea and a hungry guy made for a great lunch.
There was another waitress in the restaurant and the two of them were straightening and wiping down tables getting ready for the next day and Frank was working about 20 feet away running up the receipts for the day on the adding machine and appearing to not be paying any attention. I was seated at a table that was beside a long dessert display that had an assortment of pies and cakes.
As I was getting about finished with my meal, my waitress came over and asked,
‘Wud u lika nice pieca pie”? I did not understand her at first and I apologized and asked her to repeat the question. “Wud u like a nice pieca pie. We have sum really nice pie”, and pointed to the display case. The pecan pie looked good and there was one slice left in the case. I told her I would take it.
She got a small pie plate, opened the case and put the pie on it and brought it around to me. As she put it down, she said something in almost a whisper. With her lisp, I had no idea what she had said so I asked her to repeat. Again, in a very low voice, she said what I determined was “thas a mighty liddle pieca pie for fity cents”. She was not happy with the size of my pie and she did not want Frank to hear what she was saying about it. She felt I was being overcharged because the slice was fairly small. I told her it was fine and it would be just what I needed. She walked off.
In a minute she was back and leaned over and again, in almost a whisper, she said, “Thas jus not right to charge that much for a liddle pieca pie like that.” I, again, tried to reassure her that I was fine with it and was about half through with the slice I had. She walked off and went into the kitchen.
In a minute she came back with a whole pecan pie. She put it on the pie case, got out a knife and cut the pie up into some fairly large pieces. She then came back to my table and leaned over and said, “I am goin to bring you another pieca pie and when I do I will jus slide it onto your plate. That pieca pie was jus to liddle”. I tried to stop her but she was off and back in a moment with a huge slice of pecan pie and she kept her back to Frank and slid the pie on to my plate. Of course, Frank would have had to be the dumbest guy in Georgia not to know what was going on. “Now, thas a nice pieca pie for fity cents”. She stood up, and with a wonderful look of satisfaction, turned and walked off.
I had eaten a full meal and had a small, but adequate, slice of pecan pie. Now, I am looking at this huge slice of pecan pie on my plate!
This whole problem began because the waitress in Swainsboro, Ga., after working all day waiting tables, wanted to do what in her mind, was “the right thing”. Even if it created extra work for her and possibly put her job at risk. She cared about what she was doing and treating the customer right, even if her customer did not feel there was a problem. She would look after her customer for them. And when she had done what she thought was right, she had a real sense of pride and accomplishment. It was, to me, just a piece of pecan pie. To her, it was about who she was as a person. A good person waiting tables at Frank’s Country Kitchen.
I ate the slice of pie. Every crumb. I could not have done otherwise. Then, I had to make the drive of 108 miles home.