“Turkey sandwich, extra fries, large Coke. Try not to screw this one up.”
Sandra sighed, watching Gayle’s retreating form. The older woman had slapped the order on the table in front of her and barked out the order, followed by the crude remark. She’d admitted - and paid for - the order she’d screwed up earlier, and the one and only slip up seemed to be the fuel that head waitress needed to attack Sandra at every chance she got.
Was it really her fault that she was trying to keep the trucker’s hands off her body instead of concentrating on his order?
Sighing in frustration, Sandra got up and called out the order to the cook.
“You sure about this one, Sweetie?”
Sandra smiled at Jeff. “Very funny,” she told him. “Gayle took this one, so if it’s wrong, you know who to go to.”
“I didn’t mean to rib ya that way,” Jeff told her apologetically, glancing through the pickup window at one of his favortie people. “I think you could do without my teasing right now, huh? I’ve been hearing Gayle all morning.”
“Don’t worry about it, Jeffie,” she shrugged. “We all have our bad days.”
“Don’t we ever. Now get your butt over to table seven. You got a customer.”
“What else is new?” Sandra sighed, smiling. “This has got to be the busiest day we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The ‘here’ she was referring to wasn’t just the diner. It was Orlando. She’d arrived to the city a little under three months ago, landing the waitressing job she now held just days after. It was a far cry from the quiet, peaceful surroundings of her North Carolinian neighborhood, but it was definitely the escape she’d longed for since..
“Pickup!” Jeff called out, breaking her train of thought. “Drop this off at table four on your way to numero siete?”
“You got it,” she grinned, picking up the plates of hot food and putting them on a large tray. She delivered the meals without a hitch, then made her way to table seven.
“Sorry for making you wait, Sir,” she began, pulling out her notepad. “What can I get for you today?”
- - - - - - -
AJ glanced up from his menu at the waitress, ready to place his order. Her warm smile prompted him to give one of his own before placing his order.
“House Special,” she repeated. “With everything?”
“No onions,” he corrected, still smiling. She was the first new face he’d seen at this joint since he’d last been here about eight months ago. When the tour had finally ended, he wasted no time in coming back to the one place he knew could satisfy his hunger for the best food not out of his mother’s kitchen.
“You got it,” she smiled. Taking his menu, she paused long enough to add, “And may I thank you for being the first man in here to not assume I‘m on the menu as well. You’ve just given me hope that not all fo you are the same.”
The twinkle in her eyes made his chuckle. He watched her walk away, wondering how someone as nice as her ended up in a place like this diner. Sure, they served the best food in the city, but the clientele wasn’t exactly A-List. Truckers made up the majority of the people who dined here, and AJ had been witness to more than one or two of them making passes at the waitresses. Those girls, though, they’d eat it all up, but this new one... something made him feel incredibly bad for her having to go through that. She didn’t seem to be like Gayle, or any of the other waitresses he’d come to know by name. She had an air of decency about her that told him she just didn’t fit in here.
His suspicion was confirmed when, not two minutes later, the young woman found herself at the end of another of Gayle’s verbal lashings. This time, in front of the entire restaurant.
‘That Gayle,’ AJ shook his head, trying to block out the confrontation. ‘Always berating others to make herself look good.’
What was sad, he mused moments later when the new girl had brought his food to him with the same warm, genuine smile she’d worn before, was that she’d probably done nothing wrong to deserve what Gayle had dished out to her. That was just the kind of person the head waitess was.
He glanced down at his order and found himself grinning in spite of himself. There were the onions. Not the first time it had happened, actually, but him smiling over it as he looked up at this wonderfully interesting new girl was certainly a first.
Halfways through his meal, it started again. This time, a dish breaking at the hands of the head waitress was what cause him to look up.
“You just can’t so ANYTHING right, can you?”
“Gayle, I -”
“Or do you do this to spite me? Is that it? Are you purposely screwing up just to get on my nerves?”
“No, I -”
“Well it’s working, you little screw up.”
AJ flinched visibly. That was uncalled for. Nothing she could have done, which he doubted was anything bad at all tobegin with, deserved such harshness.
Try as he might, though, he coudn’t block out the screeching coming from Gayle...
“You walk around here like you own the place. Like you don’t have to follow orders. You HAVE to follow my orders, I’m the head waitress here, not you, understand? I don’t care how badly the customers favor you. As far as I’m concerned you’re nothing but a worthless piece of tr-”
The two women glanced at AJ, who had left his seat and was now standing directly in front of them, an angry expression on his face.
“AJ,” Gayle smiled. “I noticed your order had been wrong,” she glared at the new girl, “but it’s being taken care of.”
So this was what it was all about? AJ was dumbfounded; he couldn’t believe it. “Gayle, it’s all right. It’s not the first time it’s happened, you know that...”
The new girl shot a glance in Gayle’s direction, her eyebrow raised in surprise. AJ could only guess what Gayle had told her.
“Still, a reprimand is needed,” Gayle protested, “Now if you’ll excuse me..”
“I understand a reprimand,” AJ interrupted the woman. “But not a degrading verbal lashing like the two I’ve seen her recieve in the time I’ve been here. No one deserves that kind of treatment, Gayle. If anything, she should be praised; I’d never been treated with more genuine kindness here in all my past visits.”
AJ smiled at the new girl, and when Gayle saw her smile back, she jumped right in. “What’re you smiling at? Get back to work!”
“I’m on break, Gayle.”
“Break’s over. Go.”
“But I just-”
“She’s not going anywhere,” AJ sapoke up. “In fact, I don’t think she’s going to be taking any more orders from you at all.”
[chapter list | chapter two]