Lots of times we get the most information from folks who we see from time to time at the local filling station or the place where we have coffee or breakfast. The men and women who make up the work force of faces we come into contact with only casually but their impact is often profound and deep, when we take the time to recognize it.
Living the solitary life and being retired from the rat race affords the privilege of coming into contact with the ‘workaday world’ a little more often, seeing folks that we ‘know and really don’t know’ often. The folks who ‘serve’ us when we shop or dine are familiar to us only for the moments we are there….then we’ve gone on our way and they remain to help another patron the same as us.
Lots of times we get to know the friendly faces and make conversation with them as most folks want to do when they appreciate those who are there, every day, at all hours, to take care of our needs. We tip them when we leave because we want to, not because we have to.
And so it was recently when a man passed away who frequented the Hickory Waffle House. One of the many servers there wrote me a note recalling some of the characteristics of this man…it was like an informal eulogy and struck me as a fitting tribute to someone who I had engaged in conversation with a couple times, but did not really know anything about him.
Matter of fact the first time I spoke to this older fellow, I asked him, ‘how come you are so grumpy?’ I didn’t have any idea who he was only that he was sitting next to me at the side counter. He smiled at my comment, because I was asking in a friendly way. I learned his name, and realized he wasn’t such a bad guy beneath all that gruffness. He was always by himself and most times left before I did. We really didn’t mean that much to each other and the only thing we had in common was two old guys exchanging ‘hello’s and small talk’.
Truth is, he had a heart attack and died suddenly. The ladies at the Waffle House were sad the day after, when I came in. They told me ‘Franklin’ had died. I had no idea his age, but was shocked at this news.
One of the servers wrote me a note shortly thereafter telling me some of the stories the ladies who she worked with shared with ‘Franklin’.
– The girls of Waffle House affectionately called him “Franklin.” We never called him Frank, we always called him Franklin and he loved it.
– He loved for us girls to write him “love notes.” He would keep them all in his wallet from all different girls and he would take one out from time to time and show us what another girl wrote, I guess to make us jealous. The love notes were always written on Waffle House napkins and he loved when you told him that you loved him and he would always ask us to write lots of x’s and o’s at the bottom of the note.
– He would take us girls out to dinner. He took me and Ashley out to TGIFridays one night. He ordered ribs and he asked the waitress for a “dipping bowl.” I had no idea at the time what it was used for but now I understand. Instead of wasting napkins on messy ribs he would get a bowl of water to dip his fingers while eating his ribs.
– When Ashley was pregnant with her son Chase, Franklin gave us 50 dollars to put into the baby shower we had for her.
– He never just tipped the waitress that waited on him. He would give every girl in there 5 dollars and always tell us that we were beautiful.
– Franklin would visit us every day, sometimes twice a day. It seemed that everyone knew him or it might have been that he would talk to a fly on the wall. He had many friends and he loved his life.
– The girls of Waffle House would often joke to him that he was like Hugh Heffner. We said this to him because he thought we were all his girlfriends.” I told Franklin that he was the Hugh Heffner of Harford County and he replied to me “Yes, but I’m better looking.”
So it was, the remembrances of a man I know better now, after another I hardly know recalled and eulogized to pass on a bit of the ‘other side of the story’….
We never know where or how we will affect others or whether we really know them or not…what matters most is the path we leave behind. So next time you run into a friendly stranger, pass along a little kindness…you might learn something. Thanks Kendall for sharing. Many of the men who would sit with us at the counter at Waffle House also commented on Franklin. None of them has a computer though. Just a lot of guys who knew him, maybe only from sharing a word or two over eggs and coffee….nonetheless, they enjoyed his company, as did I.
Well written piece!
Jimmy Stillwell says
seen that man at Waffle House, now i know him…never met him…too late for that…some nice geezers hang at WH…great folks taking care of the food and service.