One of my favorite lunch spots is a little cafe across the Potomac River in a nearby West Virginia college town. The fare is reliably good and the outdoor patio is shaded and lovely. Think blooming flowers, a stream running through a stone-lined channel, and hand-hewn stone walkways and steps. (And a nice dessert menu is always a plus.)
I met an old friend there for a meal earlier this week, and not two minutes after she’d sat down, our waiter, a serious, substantial, bearded young fellow, spilled a glass of water all over the table. Fortunately, the table was one of those iron mesh, heavy items of furniture that will do structural damage if it’s ever hurled from a trebuchet. We got past that, and the fellow came back around to take our orders.
He didn’t immediately grasp what “half-sweet iced tea,” was. He forgot to offer straws. He wrote out on his little pad–word for word–each item we ordered. This guy was determined to bring to the job every iota of focus and dedication he possessed.
I found him delightful. He was trying so hard, and getting the challenges of a demanding and largely thankless job mostly right. (And yes, I tipped accordingly.)
My friend and I enjoyed our meal, solved the problems of the universe, splurged on ice cream for dessert, and generally had a good chin wag. Our waiter stood patiently by the table waiting to settle up, immediately after passing us the check. Right by the table, eyes front, as if he expected to be called upon to recite Browning’s Incident of the French Camp from memory.
Not long before we left, a couple of our waiter’s friends took a table a few yards across the patio from us. How did we divine that these were his friends? Because when he beheld the occupants of that table, he leaped–went spontaneously airborne–from the top of a flight of stone steps to land flat-footed next to their table. A round of manly-man greetings ensued, as well as some obligatory bro-bro about beer, food, and the upcoming weekend.
That leap was gorgeous, not in a balletic sense (rather the opposite), but for the joie de vivre, spontaneity, and sheer glee it conveyed. I wanted to clap, I wanted to tell him to do it again, I wanted to… well, I’m blogging about it, because that one act of unselfconscious saltation was so wonderful to behold. A small thing, maybe, but for that otherwise serious young man to be so exuberantly glad to see his friends and to show it was enormously human.
Have you encountered spontaneous expressions of joy in your travels? Have you ever felt the inclination to express any? I’ll add three commenters to my Lady Violet Pays a Call ARC list (even though the title is already on sale in the web store).