Not About Food

The Gestalt of My Favorite Waitresses

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Not About Food 28

The Gestalt of My Favorite Waitresses

mamachef | Mar 7, 2013 10:31 AM

Diners and coffeeshops are always fun topics here, so I'd like to start a discussion about the people who work those trenches. I adore waitresses; they seem of a breed: women with hearts who work hard for their money and start that day off right.
My two alltime favorites were Glenda and then Pat. It was the ladies themselves, it was what I observed when I watched them work: how they interacted with their whole clientele, circumstance and whatever day it was.
Glenda, well I've written a little about her. She worked at Norm's, my diner du choice in Sonoma County. She and Norm were married for years, building their several diners and raising a family that they brought into the business in one capacity or another. Glenda was a snappy lady: funny, sometimes brittle or distracted....but DAMN that woman could FLY. I've never seen anybody slang the hash like she did, and she always knew her customers and how they wanted their coffee before they sat down. When Glenda divorced Norm, she continued to work for him, weekends only, as she always had. The difference was that she insisted on taking the shifts alone (I think there was a money factor she hadn't experienced before) and you know what? It only made her work harder, and she still cleared a room like nothing I'd ever seen. Unfortunately, because of the divorce stress, her breaks were punctuated by the hassles she and Norm would have, out loud, in public, right there in front of G-d and everybody, but people just kinda carried on while they did their thing (most were regulars who knew both personalities and had been coming for years), and eventually she'd come around with the coffeepot again. This went on for years, 'til Glenda retired and Norm closed. They had a funny synergy: they couldn't live together, but it was pretty clear they couldn't be apart for long, and the fighting seemed to be the energy they fed from.
Ahh, Pat. Now she was something. At least 6' tall, broad in the bust and beam. She rode a hot red and silver Harley Fatboy, and when she took off her matching helmet when she came into work, you'd see her pink and purple hair, shaved on the sides and in pincurls at the top. Her makeup was a vivid rainbow: sparkly, colorful and perfectly her. She'd rock the rhinestone false eyelashes and spangly nails no waitress should have, but Pat wouldn't have been Pat without one of those things.
The first time I met Pat, I wasn't even really awake. Me and my boyfriend had woken with a bone-chilling, soul-destroying hangover and decided that what we needed was FOOD. NOW. So we went to the Carousel, and sat there sucking Pepsi and coffee, listing into each other since we sat on the same side.
Well.
All of a sudden, the WORST cacophony broke out from the back of the dining room. It sounded like the hounds of hell had been unleashed. It sounded like a battlefield. It sounded like Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem. It was that bad. And it was Pat, because Pat's shtick, only it wasn't shtick, was to sing "Happy Birthday" in her own inimitable way, to anyone who could prove that it was their day. And that is exactly what she was doing, with her entire huge voice, heart and soul. "HHHHHHHHHhhhhhhAAAAAAAAAAaaaPPPPPPPPy BBBBBBBBBIIIIIIIIIIRTTTTTTHDAAAAAAAAAAYYYY..." etc. etc. Her singing was more like braying, and it was totally cool and sure as hell woke us up. But the best was just watching this big, spangly broad do her thing with every ounce of her being.
I went there for many years on my b-day, just to get a b-day hug and song from Awesome Patricia Randle, who sadly passed in 2001, and is missed by an entire community to this day.
Got any?

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