Coney Island Enlightenment

We walk in the coney island, it looks like an old diner. The place is small…really small. There is a counter with stools and Luke runs up and sits on one. Luke asks, “Can we sit here?” He brings his best pouty face forward and bounces with anticipation. We give in and decide Matt will just keep Oliver on his lap. There is one waitress attending to all the tables. Like I said the place is small so it is not surprising. She has a hard expression on her face and she speaks without emotion. Matt and I give each other the sarcastic “great” look and roll our eyes. I am tired, hungry and don’t feel like dealing with a mean waitress. When we order our food I can feel her eyes go through me. Her glare makes me even more irritated and Matt and I shoot each other another look.

When the food arrives, she places Luke’s poke in the middle (over easy) eggs in front of him and he asks in a demanding voice, “Where is my toast!” We apologize for Luke and tell the waitress he is still learning his manners. She chuckles. Wow she can actually smile? Then she looks at me and says, “My son still forgets his manners sometimes”. I chuckle. Our eyes meet and it feels like we connect. She then tells me her son who is older has down syndrome and although he knows his manners he will push you out of the way as he is saying please to get to what he wants. The connection places me in her shoes for a moment and a flash of her hard life goes through me. I look at the place differently. I see how hard it must be, even though it is a tiny restaurant, to be the only waitress. Also how hard it is to be a waitress––period. Her mood lightens up and she is more talkative. She even tells me, as she hands us a plate of graham crackers (that we didn’t ask for), that her son packed her a lunch…of only graham crackers. I laugh and everyone eats one. We pay for our food and get up to leave. She hands me two dollar coins and tells me that they are for the boys. “Put the coins in each of their piggy banks and it will bring them good luck.” We thank her and leave.

I walked into the coney island with a chip on my shoulder. I didn’t sleep well the night before and was moody from other things not even worth mentioning. The waitress seemed to have a chip on her shoulder as well. Maybe a customer was mean to her or maybe she just had a lot on her mind…I don’t know. What I do know is I want to remember her and the brief connection we had. I want to be able to see that no matter how moody I may be and for whatever made me moody…there are others who are struggling at the same time. We get so caught up in our own issues that we forget that everyone has issues that they deal with. Funny how a dinner at a little coney island put things into perspective for me.

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