Okay, so…as you read last week, these four people are sitting at my table, expecting ten more people in their group. That’s where the story begins today…
Ten guys, jovial and talkative, stroll through the restaurant toward their table in my waitressing section. I move out of the way so they can choose seats and open menus the hostess had earlier set at each place. After a moment, I walk to their end of the table, the opposite end of the first group of four who came in earlier.
“Hi, guys. My name’s Jadell. I’ll be your waitress. What can I get you to drink?”
“I’ll take a Miller Lite,” says a gregarious guy with a beaming smirk. Like other “clever” customers, he knows we don’t serve alcohol but wants to hear me say it.
So, with a fun dose of professionalism, I tell Homecoming King, “We don’t serve alcohol.”
“Come on! Isn’t this The Happy Chef?!”
“If you’d like, I can put a plastic monkey on your glass.”
“That’ll work–7-up and a monkey for me.”
Everyone else seems to be enjoying this banter, except for one guy, Mr. Constipated. He scowls as if life, including his group, is a pain in the butt.
Knowing they’re from out of town, I ask, “Where’d you guys come from?”
A guy at the end of the table, right next to me, says in a quieter voice, “From the baseball field.”
Homecoming King pipes up, “That’s quite a team you’ve got there!”
“Yeah, I guess so.” (My friends on the team might appreciate a mention, for the record, that they went on to win the state championship two years in a row, once with a perfect game.)
Quiet guy leans in and asks, with a head-tilt to the other end of the table, “Hey, what have those four been talking about?” At this point, all of the late-comers zero in for my response.
I shrug, as if I hadn’t been that interested, and say, “Uh, something about right- and left-hand positions after the takeover.”
And all heck breaks loose. A chorus of moans. A ruckus of testosterone. Guys smack menus onto the table, push back from their place, or bolt to their feet, flipping over their chair.
“Oh, geez!” “That’s disgusting!” “Can you believe it?” “I knew it!” “Nice team play!”
The first four come out of their huddle and look over in surprise. Take-over guy and I connect eyes, mine being Omigosh-huge. He gives me an It’s-okay smile, stands up, and walks toward my end of the table, saying, “Guys. Guys,” squeezing their shoulders or putting a hand gently on their back.
Continuing in that way, he quiets them down and starts a little speech: “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads.”
I roll my eyes. Geez. Did the umps and coaches go at it again? In my mind, I see these men shouting in each other’s face, with their noses a fist-length apart.
Take-over guy continues around me and stops.
“It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.” And smiles at me.
Cool. This is like in school when the teacher holds up my artwork and says, “Class, see how Jadell blends her hues.” I think he just gave me an A.
He continues along the other side of the table, squeezing each guys’ shoulder, ushering Homecoming King and Mr. Constipated back onto their respective thrones.
“Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.”
He’s back at the head of the table, opposite me, as if he has drawn a circle around two-previously split groups.
“That is what the Son of Man has done.”
He enters my waitress station, emerges with the pitcher of water, and refills someone’s water glass. “He came to serve, not be served…”
Moving on and stopping beside me: “—and then to give away his life (putting his free hand on my shoulder) in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”
I knew it! I knew there were hostages involved in this!
All eyes shift toward me, and then down, as if they were kids reminded to share with others.
Others. Wait. Is he saying I’m somebody’s hostage? Time out, sports fans! Servant? Fine. Slave and hostage? No way.
That’s pretty much it. Takeover guy returned to his seat. The group remained calmed, ordered their food, and ate meals like normal people. But it was such a memorable group, with such unusual words, that I never forgot, but kept asking myself the same questions: Can you drink the cup? Am I somebody’s hostage? Slave? Is being a waitress really like being the top of the class?
I don’t know. But I do know that takeover guy’s words remain perched in my memory…like a plastic monkey on my beverage glass.