I walk in the door and the first thing I always do is look to see where the waitresses (sometimes waiters) are at. It has long been my custom to nod at them to let them know I have arrived and then seat myself. I know that they will get to me when they can and they know that I am a patient sort and can wait until they can get to me. Not a one of them stresses running to my seat immediately. I try to make their life easier when I am here for long hours and they seem to appreciate that; treating me with respect and friendship at all times.
Looking around, I see one of the managers at the counter, ringing out a customer. She glances towards the door to see who has just arrived and smiles at me, “Good morning, MaryAnne!” Behind her, two of the waitresses look over and their lips turn upwards as their eyes seem to light up. One of them resumes what she’s doing but pauses long enough to inform the others working that, “MaryAnne is here.”
As I walk back to the corner table I have used for more than 18 months on a near daily basis, I pass by part of the waitress’ station. The one who announced my arrival is already there, having walked behind the counters to stand patiently and wait for me. She holds up a coffee cup, “Coffee today? Or ice tea?” I respond that coffee would be great and she turns to fill the pot.
I continue my walk to the lonely table in a dark corner, one that has a power outlet for my laptop, and start setting myself up in the booth that has become “mine.” I’ve long since claimed this booth for a few reasons. The first, it has an outlet accessible. The second, it’s out of the way. The primary part of the restaurant is left open for the customers that come and go at a whim, all day long. Third, by being out of the way, it’s easier for the waitresses to get their job done without worrying too much about me. On an average day, I only request a refill on my coffee pot (it holds 2.5 cups, btw) about once every hour and a half or two hours.
With a cheerful outlook, the initial waitress appears and pours my first cup of coffee, “I’ll refill this pot for you before moving on.”
“Thank you,” I respond and turn my laptop and mouse on, plugging it into the wall for the afternoon’s adventures on the computer.
A very short time later, I see another of the day waitresses, Jo, coming and I look up with a smile as she asks, “How are you doing back here?”
“Oh, I’m good. Just have to get some work done. You know how it is.”
Not surprising to me, she remembers a story I told her yesterday, “So, did you get the right Splenda sugar or still suffering with no coffee?”
I was adamant with my reply, “Oh, I got Splenda. I couldn’t survive without at least one cup of coffee in the morning!”
In an effort to save money, I purchased generic Splenda when I did my grocery shopping on Monday. It was a $6 savings but I quickly learned, it wasn’t worth it. Unfortunately, I had mixed the generic with the original Splenda in my cabinet bucket and it was all ruined. I had to throw it all away. The taste of the generic Splenda was, quite simply, disgusting. Let that be a warning for you dear readers. Last night, I did get new Splenda and my coffee was much better. It’s surprising because I only use a 1/3rd of a teaspoon of Splenda in my coffee. That much of the generic stuff should not have been enough to ruin the entire cup of coffee.
As a diabetic, I do what I can and my coffee is one area. It’s one of the few good tasting drinks that don’t affect my blood sugar and I drink it as often as I can. It doesn’t matter if it is decaf or not. It’s not the caffeine, it’s the warm drink that I love so much. With that generic Splenda, my coffee was ruined.
With a laugh, Jo replies, “Are you hungry today or just coffee?”
“I think I want a sandwich today. Something different for lunch. I prefer ham, if y’all have something,” I respond. Jo doesn’t bring me a menu any longer; I typically don’t need one, as I know what I’ll order and I’ve memorized quite a bit of the menu over the time I’ve been coming here to sit quietly and work, play or just relax in quiet solitude. At one time, I even brought all of the financial records (and there was a lot) from my closed store here to sort through and sift, writing things up for the damned law suit. I spread out over the tables in the back and just got it done. Much easier and faster than dealing with distractions at home.
Less than 5 minutes later, my food arrives. A half sandwich, soup and salad. A cheap lunch as I am still not overly-flush with cash. She sets down the food and then says, “I’m so sorry. I forgot you don’t do croutons.”
“That’s not a big deal. I just slide them aside,” is my response as I make actions match the words. I’ve never been a huge fan of croutons and, with the diabetic diagnosis, it’s easier to skip some bits of bread here (like on a salad) so I can enjoy it elsewhere (like my half-sandwich).
While I’m sitting here typing this, the manager comes back to say hi and smile at me. Yes, I’ve used the word smile a lot but it really is true. If I need to be cheered up and have people look at me kindly, I come here and they smile. It’s infectious, really.
During November, when I had almost no money to speak of, this restaurant bought my food twice and one of the waitresses paid once. I didn’t ask. It was gifted to me. They all know what is going on in my life and treat me kindly. When I have money, I return the favor – remembering them when it comes time to tip.
I love this place. The background music is just that. The food is decidedly better than other places in town. The coffee, while occasionally strong, is quite delightful and the staff is always welcoming and friendly. I’ve seen waitresses (and waiters) come and go. I’ve watched new ones train and move on to become confident and sure of themselves. I’ve watched others head off to other jobs in other towns. I feel like this is my home away from home and it truly is a place where, “Everybody knows your name.”
Years ago, when I was stationed in Rhode Island for the United States Navy, I went with some friends up the eastern coast. We did stop by and check out the bar used for the hit TV show, “Cheers!” Here’s a link to the bar: Cheers in Boston. And, a link to see what the original show was all about is here: Cheers!
If you’re in my town and you want a great place to eat, stop by and see the staff who have become my friends at Shari’s. I promise you – it is worth it. Every bite and the money you pay will not be wasted.
Ex #1 just called to say he and baby Brendan were joining me for lunch. That means I need to go warn the waitress. The awesome part is, they know that Mark takes Mountain Dew and Brendan typically gets water or chocolate milk. I love this place. Shari’s is my “Cheers.”