2002-08-11 - 7:36 p.m.
I saw her walk in the door, my feet paused for a moment, waiting to see if she was going to sit in my section before I continued on my course to the back. I studied her, an involuntary habit of mine, to watch people as they walk in, to study them entirely in the seconds it takes for them to chose a table and sit down. She glanced behind her, her left arm holding her purse against her right side protectively and then she sat at a booth in the corner, her back not quite resting against the backrest, her body remained rigid, slightly jutting forward as if preparing for quick escape. Her hands remained busy, rifling through her purse, looking for something but she didn’t know what, she just needed something to do. I grabbed three waters from the counter, but no coffee pot, this woman wasn’t a coffee drinker. I walked to the table with my usual gait, one of purpose. I like to walk with purpose, I like to almost startle people with my purpose. I will make eye contact before I even take a step, I will hold that contact, picking one person in the group to which I am walking towards. They see me walking towards them with a resolute tone in my quick step, they will suck in their breath unexpectedly, I can see it when they suck in their breath as I walk towards them with a gentle murderous glint in my eye. As quickly as I walked to the table I will stop with just as much momentum, leave a moments pause and then turn the smile on full force, again making them suck in their breath, “Good Morning!” my voice will sing, “Can I start you out with anything to drink this morning?” I’ll inquire while setting down dewy glasses of water.
This woman had actually flinched with surprise at my sudden appearance at her table. She then looked at the three glasses of water I sat on the table and asked, “How did you know there were going to be three of us?”
Do I tell her I know there were going to be three because I had been watching her from the moment she walked in the door? Do I tell her that I knew she wasn’t a solitary diner because she had glanced behind her as she walked in the door? Do I tell her I knew she wasn’t meeting a girlfriend because there was something uncomfortable in her stance? Do I tell her I knew she wasn’t meeting a man who she was romantically involved with because she hadn’t touched her hair or face? Do I tell her I knew she was meeting someone she was familiar with, but not necessarily comfortable with because of the way she sat down in a corner booth, for a more intimate atmosphere, but still sat in that forward escape-at-any-time way? I had already deduced she was meeting a brother and his spouse, or perhaps a cousin and their spouse. Someone close and someone not so close. But I didn’t tell her this, instead I said,”Oh, I was just guessing,” masking myself with my ordinary waitress shield. Do not want people to know I am anything but a waitress. Do not want them to know that I am capable of anything, because then they expect too much. It’s easier to hide behind my waitress mask than to give the world my true self. And it’s entertaining to me, it’s entertaining to walk past forty tables in a sweep of the restaurant, to overhear forty conversations, to know every single person in the restaurant, to know their secrets better than they do.
But I just smiled at her and asked if she wanted something to drink. I didn’t need to, I could have just gone in the back and poured hot water into a pot, stuck a tea bag and a lemon on a plate and delivered it to her without asking. I knew what she would drink, just as I knew what she would order for breakfast. I don’t have to ask, but I do.|
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