by Eva Maldonado
I do not shudder to think of the legion that may have been conceived in your unisex bathrooms, nor of the heart-wrenching breakups that occurred over a plate of hash browns and eggs, nor of the lonely forgettable dinners consumed at the bar by equally lonely truck drivers.
For if you are anything, Waffle House, you are real.
Contrary to movies and sappy novels, people do in fact fail you in the wee hours of the night when you need them the most. Yet never have your greasy door handles been locked, never has the exhausted waitress ignored the request for “just one menu, please.”
Most restaurants are built upon pretenses, niceties, conventions of society. Close your menu when you’re ready to order. Napkins on your lap. Fifteen percent tip. Waffle House is but a satire of these prisons. You are here for food, not for the slimy floors and flickering fluorescent lights and the sad, dull eyes of the barely-eighteen girl in the blue shirt and black apron. And reasonable food is what you will get, at a reasonable price, in a reasonable time.
When the 3 a.m. highway is lit only by the headlights of other soulless, sleep-driven passengers, when you wake up too early and remember that you are the only one that can Krazy-Glue your broken pieces together again, when you’re bored on a Friday night with the only people that have ever made you feel whole—turn not to flashing neon lights, but to those eleven trustworthy tiles of gold.