First and foremost, I want to wish everyone who reads this (and even those who dispense with our posts directly to the trash) a MOST EXCELLENT THANKSGIVING. It has always been our favorite Holiday – purest of motivation, with no one needing to sell you anything (except for the Turkey Farmers, and somehow Black Friday has become part of the deal, but that is a whole ‘nother thing that I don’t consider to be part of Thanksgiving at all…). So, in the context of those purest motivations, we hope your next year is THE BEST YET (to balance last year, which may have been the worst).
Anyway, I know this year is “weird.” Either you are:
- NOT seeing people for Thanksgiving, and are melancholy about that, or
- You ARE seeing some people (close friends? Family?) and hoping for the best, pandemic-wise.
There’s a third group, unaware or unacknowledging of the awful statistics and potential for Thanksgiving disaster – I have nothing to say to that group. For the rest of us, it’s a WEIRD Thanksgiving.
I’d like to suggest an attitude adjustment for all of us. Let’s make it Thanksgiving EVERY DAY. That is a decision we can all make, and it comes from setting proper expectations, going with the flow without stressing about said flow, and generally being optimistic. That all has been hard to do in the past several, divisive years, but the rest of this post is ONE EXAMPLE of the Harris’ efforts to do so; sometimes successful efforts, and sometimes not.
We have disclosed on these pages that one of our FAVORITE simple pleasures that WE are Thankful about is a once-a-week breakfast visit to Waffle House. Cheap, good, unpretentious; we have been enjoying this since we first started on the road…and, of course since we first spent time in the South. The problem is, we are NOT feeling like dining-in is the right thing to do at the moment (and for the foreseeable future). MANY restaurants have been opening, and we have been patronizing them IF they have an outside option, dining al fresco only!
But NOT WAFFLE HOUSE. No Outside seating EVER at Waffle House. And we don’t do inside dining. SO, the BIG YELLOW SCRABBLE BOARD SIGNS have been like a beacon, reminding us of how things WERE but aren’t anymore. Things to be NOT THANKFUL about.
Why no outside dining is something I wondered about. Waffle Houses are mostly southern, and they COULD have almost 4-season outside dining. But NONE DO. NOT ONE. This is obviously a CHOICE they are making. Why? It seems to me (I ran a service business for 30 years), if you can expand your customer base by making SOME feel more comfortable for a reasonable cost, why wouldn’t you do that? I actually wrote to Waffle House (no answer as of yet) to ask that question; I suspect this could go in a political direction – Waffle Houses are mainly found in the COVID-IS-A-HOAX zone; but that is anti-Thanksgiving, so let’s go in a different direction.
We decided to MAKE Waffle House conform to our public health and (apparently though incomprehensibly) political requirements; yet NOT by being divisive and “in their face.” Instead, ALL POSITIVE: Going to Waffle House (we love it) but NOT Eating INSIDE and NOT PUSHING OUR AGENDA. We bring our own chairs and table for a setup in the parking lot! Then, I mask up and go inside to order. I’ll not get into the politics of what I find in there…that would be anti-Thanksgiving….suffice to say I spend the minimum time possible inside.
Once we have arrived, our experience usually goes something like this:
Liz sets up our portable table and chairs in the parking lot while I go inside to place our order. The Lady at the counter will ask if we are dining in or carrying out. Not TRYING to be obtuse, I say, “Not Sure. We are gonna eat in the parking lot (pointing to Liz sitting at our now-ready spot). Is that dining “in” or Carryout?”
The lady behind the counter will then almost universally act like I had three eyes… so I often repeat – “ I am carrying out…just out(side).”
She will inevitably say, “Huh?”
Then, it will register, and she will say, “That is definitely TO GO”
I assume because they cannot have their valuable dishes and coffee cups in the parking lot.
She will ask next, “What size coffees do you want.
I want…I say, “small — because I can come in for a refill.”
She’ll say “Huh?”
Then, “I don’t think we can do that…”
I say, “Well, if I was sitting in that booth …” (way too close to the next booth, which is something I do NOT say), “you’d give me a refill, right?”
She can’t disagree, but looks unconvinced; I leave it alone. Eventually, I know, they will invariably and gladly give me a refill.
I then wait outside until our orders are up. When I come in to get them, I’ll ask the lady for some Tabasco. She will inevitably say, “We don’t have THAT in small carryout packets…”
I will then say, “It’s OK…i am just sitting right out there (Waving to Liz)…I will bring it right back.”
She will then say, “huh?”
And on it goes. But, in the end, we get our breakfast hot off the grill, complete with hot sauce and coffee refills. And smiles from the Waffle House Staff. If we ever returned to that particular Waffle House, I am guessing it would go a lot more smoothly.
And USUALLY, at least three or 4 arriving customers will say “WHAT A GREAT IDEA…it just isn’t as good if you take it home…”
SO, what’s THAT all about, Dan? Its an allegory. YOU can find a way to make it work and be happy about it. YOU can choose to be positive in your current or in any situation. YOU can choose to be inclusive. YOU can solve problems that keep people apart.
YOU can make every day Thanksgiving.
But, I do wonder: Will Waffle House will ever figure this out?