Eats · Essays

Lemon With That Water

Location: Mexican restaurant

Subjects: Older couple enjoying a dinner out

I’m perplexed. Ok, maybe not really perplexed. Maybe I’m just shaking my head due to the fact that there was this older couple sitting across the little aisle from us last night and they were so stereotypical of what you might expect out of people who looked like they did. She with her jewelry and pinched expression and he with his izod sweater and khaki shorts. Though I did keep thinking they might be on a date, even a first date, which would make them a bit less stereotypical, and might have explained some of the uncomfortable vibes coming off their table. And I hope I don’t sound too mean, because sounding mean isn’t my intention. I’m not trying to be. It’s just that their behavior was not exactly friendly, or even respectful, and I didn’t think it would be, just based on their attire, their expressions, and their entrance. I wanted to be pleasantly surprised by them… I wasn’t.

First, they sat and ordered drinks… he a beer to go with his food, she some lemon to go in her water. She tried to order a number 13 with chicken without even really looking at the young woman giving them the water and putting the basket of chips and accompanying salsa on the table. The gentleman with her hurriedly said to her, as if embarrassed that she didn’t know the rules, she doesn’t take the order, she just brings the water and the chips. The woman, with a very strong southern accent, said… oh, Ok. She seemed nervous to be there, uncomfortable. But then again, if this was a date she very well might have been uncomfortable because of that. Could be, right…

After they get their beer and their lemon, the waitress comes to take their order who, by the way, is the same one waiting on us and also someone we like very much, and the older gent says to her, we thought you forgot about us over here…. even though it hadn’t been that long at all. Maybe 5 to 10 minutes. He tried to laugh while he said it, but he wasn’t kidding, and the waitress wasn’t laughing. Plus, they already had their beverages, with lemon, and their chips and salsa… what’s the rush. The woman then, in the same voice as earlier, without looking at the waitress, says… number 13 with chicken. The man orders his, I can’t remember what, without cheese. After ordering they make small talk about surgeries and insurance and property left to her by her father that was worth a lot for the good part of the property, but the bad part, all marsh, hasn’t sold yet and how the guy was in Texas and didn’t understand how people could live in mobile homes like that because they, to him, were inhabitable. They stop only to ask for more salsa, because she can’t eat the onions and only dips her chips in the sauce, when a young gentleman came to fill up their water glasses. He brought her more salsa.

Then the food comes, and they pray. After praying they start to eat, and hardly say another word. I mean… nothing. They eat as if they’re sitting there alone, not with each other… and that’s it. Fini.

I wonder… will I be like that? Not really paying any attention to the people working hard to bring me the food I’ve ordered or to fill the water in my glass. Will I not notice them, or when I do will I just give them a bad time about how they aren’t doing their job well, or how they’ve disappointed me by not doing it exactly as I’d like them to. Will I forget to show them respect for just being the human beings they are. I hope not.

I hope I don’t forget that they are just people who, like me, have a job. They go to work, have good days and bad, and then they go home to their lives, their friends, and their families. I hope I never get to the place that I don’t look them in the eyes or talk to them. We had a long drawn out conversation with our waitress, who also waited on the couple next to us, about her former business (she owned a coffee shop we used to frequent that had been fairly successful, but decided it took too much out of her life, that it had become her life, and she didn’t want to live like that anymore. Her solution… go to work as a waitress where she can make pretty decent money working for her brothers who own the restaurant we were in last night and who have mostly family working there… very cool, and good for her). I hope I always remember to smile, and to look people in the eye, and to be gracious. I hope I remember that we are all, to the last of us living on this tiny spinning globe, human beings with feelings, thoughts, hopes, and lives we’re living.

So far, I hope, I think I’m OK with all of that… I’m on point. I’m a person who usually thinks the best of people, or wants to anyway. And in thinking about what happened… the older couple at the table across the aisle from us, well… they too are people, maybe doing the best they could to have a night out. And maybe they were just having a bad day. Maybe they were feeling a bit off or out of sorts. Yeah, maybe that’s why they were a little less than friendly, a little less than respectful. Could be. Maybe…

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