On Tuesday, my co-worker and I needed to attend a mid-morning meeting at a job site in far western Oklahoma. We had our meeting and started back to Oklahoma City. We decided to stop for lunch in Weatherford. Weatherford is a nice town of just under 12,000 people about midway between the meeting and OKC. We were not familiar with restaurants in town, but we knew we didn’t want to do a fast food franchise.
So, as we were driving down Main Street, we came to a restaurant that looked like it had been built in the sixties. It had a few cars, so we passed it by (one of my guidelines is if there are no cars at a restaurant when there should be – don’t stop). We saw another place and was making the block, when we saw additional cars on the adjacent street of the first restaurant, so we said, “Let’s give it a shot!”
The interior did not disappoint the curious traveler. It too, looked like a time capsule from the sixties with padded booths, a place that once had a counter, but it had been converted to a buffet line. To say it was a buffet line is being generous. It seemed more like a Sunday school class potluck lunch. It had two meats (fried chicken and hamburger patties with grilled onions), two forms of potatoes (mashed and baked [cut in half]) three vegetables, some salad makings and a small amount of watermelon.
We were guided to the room beyond the buffet which was much wider than the passage in front of the buffet. Seated were some locals at two tables. We sat at a wooden round table for four and were approached by our waitress.
As I watched her coming toward us, I was amazed! If she was a day, she was over se
venty-five. I’d say probably eighty plus. I have not seen anyone of her age waiting tables before and the sight of her caused my mind to spin.
First, I should describe her. She was about 5′-4 or 5′-5, it was hard to tell because her chin was in her chest. It looked like her neck was hurting her. She was of medium build, wearing black pants and a black Route 66 tee shirt, which the restaurant sold as souvenirs. She shuffled when she walked and had a slight limp. It looked like both her knees and feet must have also being hurting.
She asked for our drink order and her voice confirmed to me she was tired. She asked if we wanted a menu or did we want to do the buffet. She seemed relieved when we choose the buffet.
Now to the spinning brain, which was throwing out questions like Popeye would throw out anyone trying to pick up Olive Oil!! First, why was she working? Was she forced into it? Did she enjoy it? Had she played to lotto and lost it all? In the total of thirty seconds of interaction with her, I was not brave enough to venture even one question.
I felt sorry for her; she didn’t seem to be enjoying the work. It was obvious she didn’t feel well, but I have to admire her, because she showed up for work. I admire her for having a desire to work! How many out there, stopped long before she did.
Perhaps she had worked there for thirty, forty, or even fifty years and just had it in her blood to be there every day. I don’t know!
Perhaps she had three adult lazy kids living in your little house and taking all of her social security check to buy cigarettes for themselves. I don’t know!
Perhaps she in a witness protection program and they forgot about her. I don’t know! It could happen!!
Perhaps she owned the joint. I don’t know!
But this I do know– she was doing what she could to be productive, it was honest work, she had a great work ethic, I would have like to have seen her being pampered and taken care of, but regardless of the circumstance, she is the type of woman who made America great. I value getting to see someone like her. And I was proud that she was our waitress. I hope the two very young waitresses,leaning against the tee shirt counter, learn from her before the opportunity is gone.