If it happened here in Massachusetts, instead of in a South Carolina diner, there would already be a move afoot by some pointy-headed forelock tugger on Beacon Hill to pass legislation outlawing waffles.
No doubt you have heard about the scuffle between a customer and a waitress at the Waffle House on Paxville Highway in Manning, S.C. The customer, Crystal Samuel, was a bit unhappy with the service she was receiving from 29-year-old Yakeisha Ward and let her know about it.
So at some point Samuel throws a waffle at Ward. Ward jumps over the counter, and they start screaming at each other so close that you could smell the syrup on Samuel’s breath. The argument spills out to the parking lot, where Ward heads to her car. She pulls out a gun and some ammunition, and shoots Samuel in the arm. Samuel looks down and all she has is . . . a waffle.
When she walked into the Waffle House, all she really wanted was something called an “All-Star” — grits, eggs, sausage, toast and a waffle. I’m sure it was the waffles that drove her over the edge. How else can you explain the rage?
But it was a poor choice. A waffle is no match for a pistol. She would have had better luck with an egg. So, after taking one in the arm, Samuel charged Ward and the two ended up throwing punches. But Ward had a gun and hit Samuel over the head with it. Give Ward a waffle instead of a gun and see if it’s still a fair fight.
I don’t want to take sides, but I think Ward definitely overreacted by pulling a gun on Samuel. I’ve worn the apron, and I know how difficult it is dealing with customers. When I worked at Ray Robinson’s on Central Street back in the 1980s, it sometimes got a little tense. At 10 a.m., the students from Blaine’s Beauty School would pour in.
“Excuse me, Mister, there’s way too much cream cheese on this bagel. Could you please scrape some off?”
“I’ll have an egg sandwich on wheat bread. Just the egg whites please.”
“Hi, can you put this bacon back on the grill for a few minutes? I like it real crisp.”
“Excuse me, Mister. You took too much off. Could you put some more cream cheese on my bagel, please?”
I tried to keep a cheery disposition and a bright smile throughout the lunch crunch and the afternoon rush, where people who had been locked up all weekend would come in with their attorneys and order everything in sight.
“I’ll have two eggs over easy with ham and home fries, toast and coffee and the meatloaf dinner with mashed potatoes and green beans and that piece of rhubarb pie while I’m waiting.”
That’s one heck of an appetite.
“Yeah, I’ve been in jail since Friday night and spent all morning in court. I’m starving. Besides, my lawyer right here is paying.”
We catered to doctors, bankers, cab drivers, business people, beauticians and, of course, the everyday street people. I’ve seen lawyers arguing with each other. I’ve been insulted by Channel 5 newsman David Boeri, who told me that I didn’t know how to make a “coffee regular.” I’ve been cursed at by some young mom because I refused to fill a baby’s bottle with Coca-Cola. She swore at me and said she would never come back. (My boss wasn’t too happy about that one.) I’ve waited on the likes of Jackie McDermott (a great tipper) and been stiffed by Sen. John Kerry (lousy tipper). I’ve stepped in the middle of arguments between Pentecostal Christians and Seventh-Day Adventists. Never once did I have to resort to my stash of waffles, hidden under the counter right near the plastic-foam coffee cups.
These days, I arrange my affairs in such a way that I have no need to carry a concealed waffle, but if I did, and if anybody tried to deny my rights, I would use my best Charlton Heston or Mrs. Butterworth voice and say, “You can have my waffles when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.”