jesus don’t pay my rent

or: bizarre easter brunch customers.

the table was set for five people–five menus, five rolls of silverware, five chairs.  a middle-aged man and an elderly woman were sitting at the table, with an empty chair between them.  i walked over to them, smiled, and said, “hello.”  it’s what i do.

“hi,” the man said to me.  “we’re expecting a few more people.”

really? i thought to myself.  you mean they didn’t just seat the two of you at this gigantic table?  they didn’t give you and your mom five menus in case you thought each one was different?  “so i see,” i said.  “can i get you something to drink while you’re waiting?”

“we’d love just some water for right now.”

when i returned to the table with two glasses of water, another woman had joined them.  she put her purse and jacket down on one of the chairs.  “can i get you something to drink?” I asked her.

“nothing, thanks,” she said, and headed off to the bathroom.  nothing? i thought.  really?  nobody wants nothing.  she’ll probably have water.  i went and got a water for her, too, and set it down in front of her place at the table.

“that’s very sweet of you,” the middle-aged man said to me.  “but she’s allergic to water.  she’s pretty sensitive about it, too, so i think if she sees it in front of her she’ll get upset.  i’m just going to put it over here.”  he picked up the glass of water and moved it away.

“haha, okay,” i said, not sure if it was a joke.  he seemed like he was serious, but a water allergy didn’t sound terribly plausible.  everything’s made of water, after all.  just in case he was serious, though, i didn’t get her anything else.

she went through the whole meal without drinking a thing.

i waited on the next group of five people (four adults and a child) who sat at the same table.  the child, a little boy about two years old, slid all the way down in his high chair and ended up getting his head stuck somehow.  he was really frightened, and cried and screamed as his parents tried to get him out.  it reminded me of when i was little and got my head stuck in the railing of our upstairs balcony.  i can still remember how frantic i was, how convinced that i’d have to live out the rest of my life with my head in a railing.  the little boy’s parents unstuck him from the chair, and a few minutes later he was happy again, giggling as he drew on the tablecloth with a red crayon.

“what have you got there?” i asked him, pointing at the sticker on the back of his left hand.

he grinned at me, opening his right hand to reveal a smushed-up grape.  laughing, he pressed his hand to his face, smearing grape guts all over his nose and upper lip.  he waited for my reaction.

“eww!” i shrieked, wrinkling my nose and holding my hands up to my face in a display of mock horror.  “that’s GROSS!”

“it IS gross,” his dad said.

“i’m gross!” the little boy said through his grape guts.  “i’m gross!  i’m gross!  i’m gross!  i’m gross!”

a table of three people ordered hamburgers.  i had to ask one of them for his order several times, because he spoke so softly i could barely hear him.  after they finished eating, i came over to the table to pick up their empty plates.  the soft-spoken man said something to me.

“i’m sorry, what did you say?”

“i said, i’d like a doggy bag for this.”  he handed me his plate, with half a hamburger left on it.

“i’ll box it up for you,” i said.  i continued stacking plates, putting his on the top of the stack

as i walked away from the table, i heard him say, loud enough for me to hear, “i’m so glad we have a president who acknowledges god.”

why did he say everything else so quietly and that was so loud? i wondered.  did he want to make sure i heard him?  was he talking to me?  does he think we’ve had a lot of presidents who haven’t acknowledged god?  does he think that, compared to bush, reagan was some kind of atheist?

they tipped me five dollars on a thirty-five dollar check.  “why is it that the christians always tip so little?” i asked amy, one of the other waitresses.

(it’s true.  the christians are, in my experience, notorious for being very friendly and sweet, telling you what a good job you did, and then tipping 14%.  that’s quite small in a restaurant where most people tip 20-25%.  i speculate that since christians are [ideally] more scrupulous than the average person, they’re less likely to succeed financially in a morally bankrupt society.  also, earthly riches don’t compare to the riches that await us in heaven, or something.  the 14% christians don’t bother me much; i just think it’s sort of strange.

“how can you tell they’re christians?” my mom asked when i told her about it later.

“they hold hands and pray over the food,” i said.  “or they’re wearing a priest collar, or they show up in church clothes and tell you that the sermon was so long they need the biggest glass of water you’ve got.  or they’re carrying a plastic souvenir shovel that says ‘church groundbreaking 2004.'”)

“i don’t know, but they do tip less, don’t they?” amy said.  “i think instead of WWJD we should have WWJT: what would jesus tip?”

“yes!” i said, “or JDPMR: jesus don’t pay my rent.”

i’m totally going to hell.  it’s a good thing my mom prays for me.