I realized recently that there’s a certain level of genius that goes into being a Waffle House cook.
As I sat at the Waffle House a couple days ago, placed my order and waited, I heard my server yelling out my order (and that of my friends) to the single cook working at the time.
But her yelling was just one of a few voices trying to get his attention. Two other servers at different tables were yelling out their orders as well. And how he kept up with it all is still a mystery. My order alone was a bit complicated. I usually get a hot chocolate, water, a waffle, scrambled eggs with cheese, raisin toast with apple butter, an order of bacon and an order of hashbrowns smothered, covered and chunked (that’s with onions, cheese and ham). Then when I get all that I usually sprinkle some hot sauce on most of it.
But anyhow, all that was to say that my order alone would have been complicated. And when you consider that the cook was preparing meals just like mine for about 20 people in the restaurant, it’s a miracle he could keep up with it all without writing it down.
Someone told me once — and I don’t know how true it is — that the cooks have a system where they’ll lay out plates for every person at a particular table that the server is calling out. Then as she calls out the orders, he’ll place an item on that plate that reminds him of what all goes on that order. So, he may place a little piece of ham on there. Or a packet of butter. Or maybe some cheese — cues as to what all he needs to do for that one plate. It makes sense to me.
Otherwise I can’t explain how the cook keeps up with so many orders being hollered at him at one time.
And on top of all that, keep in mind that a majority of the people who go to Waffle House are drunk and it’s 2 in the morning and they themselves can’t keep up with their own order let alone convey it eloquently to the server.
So, it’s my opinion that we need to have a lot more respect and admiration for the good folks who serve and cook at Waffle House.
I know what you’re thinking:
“Severo, there’s lots of other professions that do more important jobs in our community such as nurses and doctors and law enforcement officers and firefighters.”
And this is very true. Those professions are vital and thankless and tiring (and some are very dangerous) and I admire and respect the people who serve us in those ways.
But think about it. Those folks at Waffle House are out here saving lives too. Many a night (or very early morning) I’ve been to the ole Waffle House on 411 or the one in Armuchee with my inebriated friends and an order of hashbrowns is the only thing that can revive some of them. That All Star Breakfast is the only thing that stands between them and certain death from alcohol poisoning.
That sausage biscuit is the only thing that can sop up the copious amounts of alcohol they just ingested on Broad Street.
And these servers and cooks work long hours, are constantly on their feet and most of them are the friendliest, most jovial salt-of-the-earth people you ever met. They’re always ready to share a laugh with you and call you “darlin” and make sure your drink is full....and they do it for not a whole lot of money.
So, when we think of the people we’re thankful for — the people in our community who protect us and serve us and make sure we’re taken care of — might I suggest we spare a thought for the good folks at Waffle House who keep us fed with some of the best food you ever put in your belly at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning? I’d be willing to bet a lot of you out there are thankful for them too. Lord knows I am.
The best thanks we could give em is a good tip. Tip ‘em well. Most of ‘em deserve it.
Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune.