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  • Writer's pictureNora Koch

This was one of my favorite posts from 2018

We’re All in This Together

March 12, 2018

Last week my friend Monica and I met in our usual place – the El Paso Bar and Grill, for our usual cribbage game, conversation, mushroom Swiss burger, shared basket of fries and Spotted Cow beer (only available in Wisconsin). We’d not been sitting long when two menus were flopped aggressively down on our table. The man who had done so, resplendent in crumpled raw hide cowboy hat and vest, immediately walked away without a word. It was really busy in there – people filled the room and it became obvious that he was the only one waiting tables. 

One expects to be treated with courtesy by “wait staff.”

The thing is – he has only one arm, and on that arm only the thumb and index finger. We’d chatted with him the last time we were there when I mistakenly thought he was the owner of the bar. He was rushing out to tables carrying one plate at a time and one beer at a time; slamming them down and running back to get the next thing. He didn’t have time for niceties. When he came back to our table, I stated softly that we were ready to order. He snapped “That doesn’t mean I am, what do you want to drink?” We ordered our Spotted Cows and shuffled cards for a cribbage game. He soon came back with one Spotted Cow and dashed off to get the other one. I wanted to go help him, but Monica pointed out that he would probably be irritated if I did.

We started drinking our beers and playing cribbage.

He came back again, got our order and off he went. A bit later, by balancing the two small Styrofoam burger plates on the basket of fries he was able to deliver them all at once. We finished our cribbage hand and prepared to eat – Monica shook the ketchup bottle, asking me if I minded that she put her finger over the small end opening. We opened our burgers and Monica accidentally bumped into mine. She commented “Sorry, I touched your bun,” just as our waiter passed by. We all laughed and both he and I made comments about her keeping her hand off my bun.

As the room cleared out, our acquaintance began to relax. We finished our meal and took up our cribbage game again. He asked who was winning, she was, and did. He gave her a verbal thumbs up. A woman emerged from the kitchen to bus tables. I recognized her from previous visits. She breezed by with a pleasant hello.

We’re all in this together.

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