By Paul Berglund
I have a terrible memory. My brain is to memories as a colander is to water. That bothers me like it did Roy Batty. He said, “All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain” And like Roy Batty, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.” That is why I took on the mantle of Tales From the Road, to preserve these small moments before they’re gone. Here are a few of the things that I have seen in restaurants while I was on motorcycle road trips.
I met two riding friends at a Chinese buffet in Brooklyn Center. We were seated at a table and the waitress asked if we wanted the buffet. We all said yes. She then asked if we wanted anything to drink. Both by companions said in turn, “hot tea”. The waitress dutifully wrote that down on her pad. She turned to me and I said “hot tea and a glass of water”. She stared at me with a blank look on her face. She looked at her pad and then at me and asked “What do you want?” I replied “hot tea and a glass of water.” She wrote something on her pad and continued to give me a funny look. She walked over to another waitress and had a conversation with her. Our waitress pointed over at me while they were talking and both women gave me a strange look.
My companions and I got up and got our food. We sat down at the table just as our waitress returned. She set a tea pot and two tea cups on the table. She then set a murky glass of water in front of me and remained standing there watching me intently. Her eyes darted between the glass of water and my face. So I took a drink. It was equal parts of water and hot tea.
In Buena Vista Colorado, (former editor of MMM) Sev Pearman and I had eaten breakfast at a local restaurant. After a long day of trail riding we went back there for supper. We placed our food order and the waitress asked us if we wanted any thing to drink. Sev asked for an Arnold Palmer. Before I could place my order the waitress told Sev, “We don’t serve alcohol here”. Sev explained to the waitress that an Arnold Palmer was half ice tea and half lemonade. Just then the manager appeared and asked the waitress if there was a problem.
The waitress pointed accusingly at Sev and said, “He ordered an Arnold Palmer”. The manager turned sharply to Sev and said, “We don’t serve alcohol here.” Sev once again explained that an Arnold Palmer, in fact, is made of half ice tea and half lemonade. The waitress and the manager stepped away from the table and had an animated discussion. Finally the waitress nodded to the manager and went into the kitchen. The manager came back to our table. He told us “We can work something out. Stacy will be right back with your order.” And he went back to were ever he had appeared from.
Stacy, who was now dear to our hearts, returned with two glasses. Sev and I were both amused because she hadn’t ask me if I wanted anything to drink as of yet. She set both glasses in front of Sev and said with pride. “We are only charging you for one drink. I filled the glass of ice tea and the glass of lemonade three quarters full so you can mix them.” Sev thanked her and we enjoyed our meal with out further incident. I did have to rely on my prodigious production of saliva to avoid choking during the meal, do to my reluctance to ask Stacy for a glass of water.
The next two incidents happened on the same road trip. An artist friend of mine and his wife had invited me on their trip to Leadville Colorado. He was going to inspect the foundry that was casting a statue he had carved. The plan was to eat lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Des Moines Iowa on the first day of the trip.
We stopped for gas about half way down and while they did what ever the hell it is rookies do in a gas station that takes so long, I had time to drink a 33 ounce glass of Dr. Pepper. We eventually got back on the road and by the time we got to the restaurant I had to pee. Very much so. I parked my bike and jogged to the restaurant. I found the bathroom and went inside. Standing near the sink was a man in his eighties. His pants were down around his ankles. Thankfully, his grandpa underpants were still in place. He held up one finger as if he had something to say to me. I made a mental note of all this and went straight to the urinal.
Just then my artist friend entered the bathroom. The elderly man asked my friend if he could help him with his pants. Without a word the helpful artist retrieved the wayward pants and the old man thanked him. My friend gave a nod and went into the stall do relieve himself.
Over lunch we exchanged weird tales of restaurants. They had never been to a Waffle House, so I won easily. I stop at them when ever I get the opportunity in my travels. They were intrigued. Our route took us right past Fort Collins Colorado. There is a Waffle House just off the freeway exit. The next day we pulled in at lunch time.
Waffle Houses do not impress you when you walk in. We sat down in a booth and I talked them through the place mat style menu. The waitress came over to our booth and shoved me over with her back-side and sat next to me. She looked at my friends across the table and asked them what they wanted. They fumbled out their order and she turned to me.
I wanted a large breakfast and ordered accordingly. At this time I still didn’t drink coffee, so I asked the waitress if it was tacky to drink Mr. Pibb with breakfast. She set down her pad and said “Listen honey, my sister drank a twelve pack of Mountain Dew a day. When she got pregnant she kept on drinking twelve cans of Dew every day. When she had that baby…” She shook her head. “…that boy ain’t right.”
She got up and placed our order with the cook. And that is how my friends were introduced to the joys of Waffle House.