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Sitting in a Waffle House Booth

A Friday night visit to a Waffle House brings sustenance. But for many of us, a Waffle House booth has brought so much more. A simple place filled with memories reminds us all of what a wonderful world it truly is.



Admit it, we’ve all found ourselves in this particular place for one reason or another. The reason is almost always because our stomachs are being rather vocal about being fed, but it’s the why and when that has inspired me.


Let me explain how I got to the point of writing this story about something so many of us can relate to. That Friday night was like so many others. My daughter and I had been out shopping that evening, and the question of dinner arose. The time-eternal debate of where to eat ensued. You know the one—the one wherein no one knows where they want to eat, but everyone knows where they DON’T want to eat. After going through over a half-dozen options that were summarily dismissed, I suggested Waffle House. After a snap judgement it was approved, and we were off.


Admittedly, it had been a good long while since we had been to Waffle House. We found a booth, pulled the menu from behind the napkin dispenser, and reviewed all the options. I really don’t know why we bother to look at the menu, because nine times out of ten we always get our usual order.


After the lone waitress communicated our order to the cook (two All-Star Specials, bacon instead of sausage, and hashbrowns instead of grits), we began talking. Our waitress and the cook were doing a fantastic job, especially as business picked up after we sat down.


Observing the staff and patrons alike, I started thinking (I know, I tend to do that a lot). I was a mother-daughter duo, behind us were a group of African American teenagers, and behind them were a group of Spanish speaking adults. At the bar was a white father-son group, and individuals of varying ages and races came in to place to-go orders.


What is it about this regional chain that brings so many people together every day? It’s simple really; it’s because it feels like home. It’s cozy, the recipes don’t change, and there’s something about the staff personalities that make us feel like family. They’re real. They’re not pretentious. We laugh, commiserate, and have good conversation.


And so, I came to the realization that most of us have a Waffle House memory. Something that even today, sticks out to you.


I have one.


A little over ten years ago, I was at the Waffle House with my then much younger children. My son was about eight, and my daughter about three. We were in a booth and talking amongst ourselves. At some point, a man who was maybe in his 50’s or 60’s, was dining alone and seated at one of the stools that surround the kitchen. He turned around and gave my son a couple dollars and asked him if he would like to pick out songs on the jukebox.

Looking to me for approval, I nodded and smiled, and my son rushed over to the jukebox.


I had no idea what song he would pick. But then the song came on, and in those iconic first few notes, I knew exactly what he had chosen. He had chosen Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”


The lone man straightened his back, swiveled back around to me, and asked, “Did you tell him to pick that song?”


I replied, “No, he went over and picked it all on his own.”


The man was incredulous.


We tend to tie music to memories, people, and feelings. It was obvious that this song had a very deep, emotional meaning to him, one that both stunned and spoke to him.


You see, my son picked that song because I had slow danced with him to that song at home. And when he had the opportunity, he wanted to share that song with everyone.


It was beautiful.


For three minutes and thirty-six seconds, the entire Waffle House was serenaded by the sound of this time immemorial song.


What a Wonderful World, indeed.

 

And so, I want to ask you—what is your Waffle House memory? Is it from high school? Catching a bite on a Christmas Day work shift? Meeting up after an event? A Waffle House employee you looked forward to seeing?


But before you go, have a listen.


Louis Armstrong couldn’t have said it any better than when he said, “And all I'm saying is, see, what a wonderful world it would be if only we'd give it a chance. Love baby, love. That's the secret, yeah. If lots more of us loved each other, we'd solve lots more problems. And then this world would be a gasser.”


And no, this is not a paid advertisement for Waffle House. Just the ramblings and musings of a simple story-teller trying to change the world for the better, one story at a time.

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2 Comments


"Waffle House" - I don't know anyone who can't relate to this!

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Holly Bills
Holly Bills
Dec 04, 2022
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I feel like there should be a compilation of Waffle House stories.

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