Yes, I know. Waffle House is not a hair salon. And, typically, a hair salon does not cook or sell waffles. But on one night in early July my daughter and I had adventures at both a salon and a Waffle House.
You see, the girl asked me out of the blue if she could color the tips of her hair. When I readily said yes, she was shocked. I’m not sure why. As I have repeatedly told her, it’s just hair. Color it. Cut it. Curl it. Shave it off. 99% of the time it will return to its original state. Now, depending on what you do to it, it might take a couple of years. But she’s 16, she’s got time.
Many of you know that coloring hair can be expensive. Especially when you have dark hair like we do. Call me cheap, but I’m not spending several hundred dollars for my teenager to have bright red hair. So, I did what any price conscious parent would; I called the local beauty school.
It was Friday night, after work, and her appointment was at 6 pm. She was sooooo excited. For once we arrived early. As we waited, other frugal customers began to arrive, prepared for an evening of beauty.
The stylist who was assigned to us was very sweet. This was my girl’s first time getting her hair colored. And it was the stylist second time ever coloring someone’s hair. (The first time was a family member so I’m not sure if that counts.) What could go wrong, right?
Thankfully, nothing went wrong. For us at least. The lady a few seats over had a massive meltdown though. Seems she told the young lady to do an asymmetrical cut, short in back-long in front, but to only take about 3-4 inches off. She got the right cut, just a little shorter than she intended. And, apparently, she was in a wedding the next day. Oops.
This incident gave me an opportunity to teach my girl a few lessons. First, when it really matters you have to be specific. Don’t assume that strangers are reading your mind and know exactly what you mean. Make sure you communicate well. Second, when things go wrong how you react says a lot about who you are. It’s OK to be upset but belittling other people because of a mistake just makes you look like a jackass. Third, hugging complete strangers who are having a meltdown is not a good idea. (My girls’ a hugger.) Many people in modern society would be offended and that would just make the whole thing worse. And finally, plan ahead. Don’t get your hair cut by a student stylist the day before a wedding.
The meltdown kind of stopped all progress at all stations in the school. It was about 30 minutes before any of the supervisors were available to attend to the other student stylists. So, it was a while before Esmeralda started working on the girl’s hair. And since my girl has A LOT of hair, it took about 2 ½ hours just to apply the bleach and foils. By the time all the dying, trimming, drying, and styling was done, we had been at the beauty school for almost 5 hours.
I’m guessing you can do the math: appointment at 6 pm, arrived early, 5 hours of styling. Yes, it was after 10:30 pm when we left the beauty school. And we had not eaten anything before going to the appointment.
I asked the girl what she wanted for dinner. All the places she proposed were going to be closing soon or were way to heavy for that late at night. She didn’t want McDonald’s; I didn’t want wings. We compromised on Waffle House.
Maybe I just wasn’t thinking, but I did not expect a crowd at the Waffle House in Alpharetta. Especially not the one we went to. It’s not close to anything that resembles a night spot. It’s across the street from a public school bus depot, for crying out loud. Who’s going to be at that particular Waffle House at 11 pm?
Well, it turns out that about 50 other people were at that location. And half of them were drunk because they had just left some sort of concert at the local amphitheater. I’m guessing, based on the excess of cowboy boots, that it was a country concert. Which around here usually means beer, and maybe a little moonshine or whisky if your party is good at smuggling in booze. Not necessarily the crowd I wanted to hang out with at that time, but it was late and I knew our options were limited. We stayed.
Unfortunately, the House of Waffles was not prepared for the influx of patrons on this evening. There were a grand total of 5 folks working: 3 servers and 2 cooks. I give them credit, they were moving some food and doing their best to keep up with the traffic. But a couple of drunks brought the evening to a whole new level.
If you’re not a frequent customer at Waffle House, well, you should be. It’s comfort food. But there are some unwritten rules. First, you wait your turn in the order you arrive. They don’t take names but we’re all smart enough to know who was in line ahead of us. Second, you keep a civil tongue and treat the staff, and other patrons, with respect. Third, wait for the table to be cleared and wiped down before you sit. Simple enough, right? Wrong.
The girl and I got in line behind a rather inebriated couple who were wandering from one end to the other but, not wanting to block the door or the register, we stayed in the designated waiting area. This is when a couple of very drunk women (ladies is too civilized to describe them) wandered in and ignored everyone. The inebriated couple got the first clean booth and they snagged the table that should have been ours. OK. I’m cool.
I’ll be honest, there were a couple of spots we could have been pushy and sat in. Two spots directly in front of the register were not appealing because, well, they were DIRECTLY in front of the register. Not a great spot to try to eat. Two spots by the wall were being used as a holding spot for dirty plates as the limited staff tried to clear tables as quickly as possible. Knowing that they were super busy I didn’t want to create more havoc by insisting that these spots be cleared.
One family that came in behind us snagged the two register spots after asking if we were going to sit there. OK, I didn’t want that anyway. Another group behind us snagged a table on the other end of the restaurant before I had a chance to walk over. Rude, but OK I get it. But the point where I started to get upset was when the group of three behind me said, “Well, there’s only two of them, we should get that table because they can sit anywhere.” Wait, what? Hello, I’ve got ears.
When I turned and looked directly at the group they smiled and said “Would you be ok sitting over there by the wall?” My response, “Yes, if they were clearing that area. But it seems to be a staging area due to the crowd.” Still all smiles, “Oh we’ll get them to clear it for you.” Plop, sat their skinny butts down in the now cleared booth
Still trying to be calm and civil, I just turned away. The inebriated fellow from earlier, however, had had enough. He had seen the drunk ladies steal our table. He had seen me give the go ahead to the folks who took the register seats. And now he had watched the preppy blonds decide that my group of two did not deserve a table. He stood and approached the frantic waitress to point out the issue.
She immediately cleared the counter area and made sure we got the seats. Then our new friend stood, hugged both me and my girl, and told us he was picking up our tab. I tried to decline but he insisted. He also made sure I understood he wasn’t crazy. Just drunk, not crazy.
Finally seated, we decided what we were going to eat as we watched more people try to fit into the crowded diner. We waited patiently, knowing that Mera would get to us as soon as she could. The drunk women, however, did not understand how to be patient. They began yelling, banging on the table, and demanding to know where their fries were. When Mera finally reached us our ability to order was interrupted by these ongoing demands. And then they took it too far. They cursed at Mera.
Our fellow patrons took action. A father eating with his family stood and informed these women that they would not disrespect her that way. The table beside them told them they needed to watch their attitudes and language. Our new friend tried to stand and take action, but didn’t quite make it out of the booth. And finally, the manager on duty made her way out of the kitchen and told the women they needed to leave immediately or the cops would be called.
Once they left, still yelling racial slurs and harsh comments, things calmed down somewhat. There were still too many people in this little restaurant. People failed to understand the idea that they should wait until the table was cleared before sitting. This led to broken plates on the floor. The staff was working as hard as they could to serve everyone quickly (and clean tables, and sweep up broken plates).
Before actually leaving the premises, though, one of the drunk duo re-entered searching for her cigarettes. The new inhabitants of the booth did not have them. Mera had not picked them up. She acted like she was going to walk through the grill area and search for them and tried to demand that she be shown the security video. Obviously, we were all guilty of keeping her from her nicotine. But, as the entire section was staring at her and telling her she needed to leave, she smartly made another not-so-classy exit.
By the time the girl and I got home it was after midnight. We were tired. The evening had been much longer and more eventful than we had planned. But the girl loves her red hair. And we have some new stories to tell. Who could ask for more?