March 21, 2008
A few years ago I joined some colleagues on an academic conference jaunt to a large private university in the American northeast. The approved conference itinerary was to take us directly from our swish Chicago hotel to the campus gates, in the hygienic manner of the modern business traveller.
For reasons too complicated to retell, on the return trip we found ourselves becalmed in a village in the backwaters of rural Indiana, in the old American heartland. The streets we strolled down were lined with wooden bungalows, and there was a flagstaff with the Stars and Stripes in every other front yard. We ate in rural diners by the highway with orange-tinted windows, stained wooden cubicles and waitresses with chequered aprons.
Much like Columbus, we had voyaged in search of streets paved with gold, and instead we had accidentally discovered America.
I remembered this article this morning as my husband and I ate breakfast at the Waffle House. If I knew a foreign visitor who needed to see a slice of the USA, I'd seriously make a stop at the greasy spoon. All walks of life, all races, all ages at the Waffle House, crammed into a smokey, loud, friendly place. And the work ethic at the Waffle House! Those cooks and waitresses move fast. None of this we'll-cook-your-schnitzel-when-we-damn-well-get-around-to-it business at the Waffle House, nosiree. The manager's washing dishes, six waffle irons are going, and waitresses are waiting in line to bark words like "scattered" and "smothered."
At the Waffle House, America is a spectator sport.
Posted by: Oda Mae at March 21, 2008 08:16 AM (IpD7F)
Posted by: lea at March 21, 2008 05:36 PM (SyhWV)
Posted by: Cookie_J at April 06, 2008 10:56 AM (S39vz)
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