CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter--LOBSTER TALES [R, 8-2-18]
Even though it is CrabFest at Red Lobster, they do not have crab cakes, which is what Helen really likes, and why I suggested we go there for supper in the first place, because I had seen the ads on TV for CrabFest and thought I could get thoughtful-husband points for remembering that Helen likes crab cakes and taking her there for supper. But at least CrabFest lived up to its name, because I’m being crabby about it.
Being there reminded me of a different supper at a different Red Lobster, about thirty years ago. We were passing through Terre Haute, with our teen daughters. Our waitress was Barbie, and looked it—slender, blond, shapely, a well-preserved fifty-five or so. As she took our orders, she told us it was her last shift, after thirty years of working at Red Lobster.
When our food was ready, the manager helped Barbie carry it to our table. “Our best waitress for thirty years,” he said. “She started working here the day we opened, and now she’s retiring.”
They set our plates before us and began to tell stories of things that happened in those thirty years—funny things, strange things, interesting things. They got tired of standing and sat down with us and kept telling us about Barbie’s thirty years as a Red Lobster waitress, what she liked about the job and what she would miss, how she would now spend more time with her husband and grandchildren. The manager got up, told other wait staffers to cover Barbie’s tables, brought us more cheesy biscuits, went on his rounds, left Barbie with us, to continue telling her story.
I have no idea why we were honored in this way. It was the first and last time we ate at that Red Lobster. We never saw Barbie again, have no idea if she got to spend time with those grandchildren, although I devoutly hope so.
You know, she had a story, an important story, one of being faithful to her job at a chain restaurant for thirty years, a story of hope for years and relationships to come, the story that you have when one stage is ending and another is beginning. You need to tell that story, and that requires someone to hear it. Barbie needed to tell her story, and somebody had to hear it, and we were in the right place at the right time.
Everybody needs a chance to tell their story. If there is no one to listen to yours, go find an empty seat at a Red Lobster and tell it.
Don’t expect to get crab cakes, though.
John Robert McFarland