I hate when they act like they own the place. My rent relies on his tip, though. So I smile, pretending from behind my waterproof eyeliner that I’m not dying to go home and look at the TV until the cheap Merlot runs out. I clean up the table afterwards and go to my last one of the day.
He wasn’t big, I remember that. That’s what stood out to me; little guy like that ordering all that food. I slouched towards his table, not acknowledging the empty smile he offered.
The normal routine. Hi, I’m Daisy, welcome. What can I get started for you? There’s a brief silence between us that grows and grows and I start to get angry. I had a brand new bottle chilling at home. I tap my pen on my notepad trying to rush him. The smart ones usually catch onto that.
Nothing; he’s looking at the menu with tombstone eyes. I look toward the kitchen window and see them all crowded up in front of it like fish in a tank. Some are laughing.
Do you need help with the menu, sir? He says, “no, no, I don’t think so.” He says he’s ready.
Mashed potatoes with brown gravy, chicken and dumplings, tomato soup, a turkey sandwich, hot wings, steak (when I told him we were out of baked potatoes he got steak fries instead), a slice of meatloaf, a bowl of pot roast, a few slices of pie, and three milkshakes.
At first I think he’s joking.
When his food comes out he eats it all. Not a crumb is spared. It was impressive, honestly. Then he starts crying. I don’t know why, but something about seeing him sitting there…
I sit down across from him. Now I’m crying too. There was no one else in the restaurant, and the people in the kitchen window had scattered to their various jobs in the back. Neither of us questions the other one as we sit there weeping into our hands. It is soothing.
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