I ate lunch at the Mayflower this afternoon and man what a treat it was. Not the food, which was also very good, but the things/people I observed there is what made it the treat it turned out to be. (Salmon patties, fried okra, turnip greens, corn bread and of course sweet tea for those who might wonder what I ate).
I was in the next to rear most booth, sitting by myself. An elderly gentleman came in after me and sat the booth right behind me. Shortly after that four college aged kids sat in the booth in front of me. In the front of the restaurant was a little middle aged guy, balding, maybe 5’5” and 140 pounds tops. I have seen him almost every time I have been in the Mayflower. What is remarkable about him is that he is almost a living cartoon character. He is highly animated, he flits around from table to cash register, then out the door to chase someone down on the sidewalk, then back in the door and over to the table, all the while gesturing with his hands. Pondering this, I heard the older waitress asking the gentleman behind me how he was doing, calling him by name. So he’s a regular too. The old man literally wailed saying this was the worst day of his life. His bird died this morning he reported, then broke down into sobs. The waitress tried to comfort him to no avail and left to get his tea. No order was ever placed, his Friday ritual is no doubt well defined over the years. I sat with my back to him, listening as he occasionally heaved a big sigh or a sob. I felt bad for the old man.
Now the four kids in front of me had placed their order and after their tea was delivered, one of the kids asked if they could pray. They clasped hands and one began to pray. Daddy God, he began, and went on to thank him for allowing them to share witness with others. The prayer was interspersed with references to Jesus, Daddy God, Father, Daddy, and each sentence usually began with something like ‘Daddy, we just come asking..... followed by some directions for God to follow to benefit the petitioners. Lots of humble ‘We just ask’, ‘We just thank’, We just take time’, you get the picture. I also heard him ask that, ‘much like you, Father God, designed our bodies to use this food prepared for us, we just ask that you use our bodies in your kingdom’. I had to wait then to see if any of them had ordered spaghetti, but they didn’t. That would have been too weird.
Now, along with this lengthy instruction to God, superimpose the sobs of an old man behind me. Superimpose a living cartoon character on that composite scene, and you might understand why I was beginning to feel weird. I ate more slowly to see what else might unfold. Once the prayerful kids’ food was delivered, their conversation turned to obese dogs, cell phone ring tones and other more mundane topics. The cartoon character danced out the door after paying his bill at the cash register. The old man continued to occasionally sob or sigh behind me. I thought for a moment about asking the kids in front of me to instruct God with respect to the dead bird, but thought better of it. Maybe God doesn’t care about dead birds, particularly this close to another SEC football season.
Paying my bill, I asked the lady at the cash register about the dead bird and the cartoon guy. She rolled her eyes, smiled and told me I ought to eat there more often. She’s right. I will.