The Perils of Being Dawn

“The vegetable soup is really good. It’s a light broth loaded with veggies,” I suggested to a woman who didn’t know what she wanted to order and regarded me tensely and warily. Her wide, faded blue eyes set under a widow’s peak and a crown of wispy white hair didn’t look familiar. Yet, I wondered if I waited on her before and forgot to refill her coffee when requested. Or bring extra napkins. Customers often have long memories.

“I’ll have the vegetable soup,” said her friend whose tone and manner were gentler, more relaxed. She smiled her encouragement to the Wary Woman.

“I don’t know,” said the Wary Woman. She stared at the menu, then me, like we were trying to sell her land under the Golden Gate Bridge.

“It’s my favorite soup of the bunch,” I said.

“It is good,” reassured the Relaxed Woman.

“It’s good?” she asked, never losing her edge of suspicion.

“Yes, I love it,” I said.

She studied me for a second, then said, “Yeah, but your name is ‘Dawn’.”

“Yeah?” I wondered what I’d done to offend her.

“That’s the name of my daughter-in-law,” she snorted, waving her hands dismissively.

She ended up ordering the vegetable soup and seemed to enjoy it. After confessing her feelings, she was all smiles. Throughout the lunch, I paid them extra attention. “I’m gonna redeem the name ‘Dawn’,” I assured the Wary Woman.

“Why don’t you just take her place?”

“Well, I’d need to meet him first.” I giggled self-consciously, wanting to pass off the remark as a joke.

She didn’t laugh. “Oh, he’s great. You’d like him.”

“Yes, I’m sure I would. But he might not like me and–”

“We’ll work it out!” she insisted. I laughed again. She still didn’t.

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Senior Discount

She sat under a dome of snowy, perfectly coiffed hair staring at her credit card slip and bill.  A red jacket covering a sunny blouse looked pressed.  Her fingers, twisted and white, like exposed roots, held the pen poised in the air.  She maintained this pose for a while and I wasn’t sure if she was confused.  She had come alone, without the care of a nurse, which so many of the elderly customers at The Pie Shoppe had in attendance, so she must have been capable.

I passed her table and she looked up.  “Thank you for giving me the senior discount,” she said, her voice musical and soft.

She mistook me for her server.  I didn’t wait on her and her server was on break.  “You’re welcome,” I said.

“I take the senior discount so I can turn it around and add it to your tip. I want you to have it.”

“Oh! Thank you.  That’s very nice of you.  Not every one does that.”

“Well, it’s nice to be able to do it.” She placed the papers carefully into the bill book and handed it to me with eyes that sparkled under their rheumy glaze.