A waitress struggles with a French-speaking customer. She has strong opinions.
|"Elaine, you have a new customer out front." We, in the steaming hot kitchen, sighed a collective, "Whew", as she hurried into the restaurant. I for one felt my ribs ache from the effort of holding my breath. My tongue tingled from the tight clamp of my teeth. Oh, I'd already added my two cents. Elaine didn't bat an eye. Like a dog with a bone, she chewed nonstop. Her recent words still rang in my ears. "If I had your God-given gift, do you think I'd be working here?" This had been directed to a sixteen-year old dishwasher who barely spoke. She steadily pushed hundreds of dirty dishes through the sloshing machine. Occasionally, when eye contact occurred, she'd nod and smile. Hearing the older woman's question, the teenager's eyes had widened. "Do you hear me? If I had your rack, I'd be working at Hooter's. Men would throw money at me." That's right. Elaine counselled a young girl to flaunt her body to earn a living. Never mind washing dishes, shake your money makers. Stephanie could only stare open-mouthed. Her chest heaved. In the absence of her surprise advice-giver, she shook her head and shrugged. With her eyes squeezed shut, she took a moment to slow her breathing. The rest of us returned to slicing, sautéing, flipping, and more. Stephanie returned to clinking glassware, rattling plates, and whooshing water. Elaine announced her return to the kitchen with the slamming of the wooden swing-door, and a sharp slap on the counter. Throwing her hands in the air, she raved. "I can't do it. I just can't do it." Knowing I'd regret it , and mentally kicking myself, I asked, "Do what?" "That man out there, I don't understand him. What does he want? He called me a waiter, I think." I put my knife down, and turned to her. All I could mumble came out as "Hmmm." "He doesn't speak right. Is he French, or somethin'? He pointed at the menu. What's 'deenay'?" I replied. "He's asking for dinner." "Well, that explains it, maybe. He did point at a clubhouse an' fries. Are you sure?" "Didn't you ever hear that a picture paints a thousand words? A sandwich is pretty specific." "Huh, he just stared at me, and his finger kept pokin'. He seemed intense, you know? But he said somethin' else, too." "Oh, like what?" Elaine scratched the spot where her spectacles rested on an ear. "I dunno really. Mayo, myo?" "Elaine, he asked for mayonnaise." "Naw! That can't be. It's not English he's speakin'. He must want somethin' French, or whatever." "Elaine, mayonnaise is mayonnaise. Language doesn't matter. Heck, I think it's a French word anyway. Trust me. Other customers order it for clubhouses, right?" "I guess so, but what if I got it wrong? There'll be no tip ya know. It aint my looks that bring in the big bucks." "Here's the clubhouse and the mayonnaise. I think your man will be happy. He's probably not here for conversation anyway." As she carried the platter through the door she'd just nudged with her hip, Elaine muttered over her shoulder, "I don't know why the French are allowed to travel anyway. Shouldn't there be a law, or somethin'?" Only a few brief moments of bliss slipped away before Elaine kicked the door open. With hands on her hips, she shouted, "Bloody Hell! Of all the rotten..." Four pairs of eyes turned to her, eyes with raised eyebrows. I'm certain our silence signalled a 'what now?' response. "That Frenchie took the order, and then, he waved his empty cup at me. Does anybody know what 'kafay' means? What? Am I supposed to get him whatever he wants?" This time, Stephanie spoke up. "I believe the poor man would like some coffee. I may have boobs, but I speak a little French."(641 words)|