“Wanna meet us at Waffle House?” I texted my husband at almost 3:00. Lunch-ish? Thursdays are long, we rarely see him and we miss him. Maybe he misses us a little too. I mean, if he’s willing to come to Waffle House at 3:00, on a full stomach. Yep, he misses us too. He walked in with his enthusiasm and bright blue happy eyes on a dreary day. And I loved him. For showing up. He didn’t even need to eat, he just wanted to hang with us for a brief 45 minutes. That’s dedication.
It was chaos in our booth. I saw it for myself, and saw the scared look in our waitress’s eyes. Crazy town before the food came and even more so, after our waitress dropped off the breakfast, well, lunch. Three hungry boys. Bacon grabbing. Butter spreading and waffle cutting times three. Hash brown splitting. Ahhh, the ketchup keeps sputtering. It’s out. Go ahead and add trying to have an adult conversation in there. In the midst of rearranging all of the plates to fit on the tiny table. Crap. We got a fork down.
It’s somewhat hilarious and ridiculous that we ever attempt to go out to eat, as a family. It’s a ton of work. Even if we don’t have to do the dishes after. Even if it’s at Waffle House. We obviously suffer slightly from short-term memory loss. Or hunger trumps rational thinking. Time after time. Low expectations help.
Today, in the midst of the eating part, my husband got up from the table and went over to talk with the employee that had cooked our food. I didn’t really know what was going on around me. The place was pretty empty. Mama tunnel vision. Must focus on the three boys who were now, what? Of course. Done eating. They are not expected to taste or enjoy the food. Shovel it in and be done with it. Oh, gross. “Get out from under the table, Colby. Right now!” I had not even touched my burnt waffle yet. Or my covered hashbrowns. I told the waitress, “it’s okay, I’m used to eating burnt food,” when she asked if they should make another waffle. Afterall, it really wasn’t that burnt, it was still a shade of brown. Dark brown. And slightly black underneath. Poor waffle.
Next thing I know, I glance over my shoulder. My husband is now going over to talk to a couple at the counter. I hear him say that he would like to buy their meals. Sometimes, he can really drive me crazy. I thought our table provided enough entertainment, but apparently not. And here is the kicker. This annoying yet also, at the same time, most endearing personality trait my husband possesses, he notices people. Really notices, oftentimes, complete strangers. In a really genuine good kind of way. Not the stare, look the other way, then, keep carrying on with your day way. He reacts, changes direction, and truly cares for people.
I have a love-hate relationship with this characteristic. I hate it because I am selfish, sometimes, and I want that attention. Look at me. Look at me. I love it, however, because he generously gives attention to people who need it. More than me. That’s humbling and inspiring. And in the end, it wins my heart every time. I love him immensely. I don’t know that he will ever know the impact of talking with and buying a late lunch for his newly met friends, Tasha and Joseph, a couple struggling to find work, a place to live and just survive. I know that the impact it had on me, his wife, is profound. If we all could be so good to notice people, to ask multiple times, “how are you doing?” He does that too. And he means it. He wants you to answer honestly, no matter how quick or lengthy your response may be. He’s one of the best in this world. If you get some of his attention, over waffles, coffee, or beer, I hope you will cherish it too. He can rub off on people in a noticeable way.