RE: Waffle House
Even though Waffle House is franchised, I consider it roadfood. Every major road trip I've ever taken has included at least one stop at Wafflehouse. One at Shoney's too, but I digress.
That said, I don't give a flip what forum a particular restaurant falls in. It just doesn't matter to me.
A visit to a Wafflehouse is a visit to mainstream America. Depending on what time of day or night you visit, you will sit near bikers, hookers, truckers, families heading across country, partiers trying to take the edge off the alcohol, locals getting together for coffee and gossip, or simply a hungry soul looking for decent food.
What's even more fun than watching the customers is watching the waitresses interact with the cooks. Lord, I love to hear them shout out the orders in their special lingo. How do they remember all that? How does the cook keep it straight?
My most recent Wafflehouse experience was memorable in a rather sad way. I had escaped to a nearby town for the weekend. It was one year since my husband died, and I traveled to seek distraction. Sunday morning late I pulled into a WH just outside Greenville, SC. (After looking at many local non-chain places that were closed.) Feeling nostalgic and lonely, I felt the busy-ness of that place might lift my spirits.
Seated at the counter I was finally waited on by an unhappy waitress. Evidently she was being kept late because of several no-show staffers. At every chance I tried to engage her in a bit of conversation. No go. I tried to let her know it was ok and I understood. Nada.
She was not overly efficient; I had to request flatware after my food arrived. I had to remind her that I had ordered bacon too. But I continued to do so with smiles. She never reciprocated.
When I paid my bill she was at the register. Upon settling up I said, "Honey, I tried so hard to make you smile. If you had simply smiled once your tip would have been bigger."
THEN she smiled a bit and said, "That's ok."
If only she had known that I needed a smile from someone, anyone, that sad morning...