Cheeseburgers, Hashbrowns, and a Woman Named Sue

August 28, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen –

In this world of hate and discontent it’s nice to know that there is sunshine in the darkness. As we prepared for yet another much anticipated college football season, I included a “new” article here by Harley Hanesworth.

It reminds us all that sunshine comes in many forms and from places we don’t expect.

Bring the Sunshine to someone this week my dear readers.


Cheeseburgers, Hashbrowns, and a Woman Named Sue

I was out of town not too long ago and the motel I was at didn’t serve any kind of evening meal. I like to stay at those that offer up a complimentary dinner in the evening to save money. On this particular trip, in the city I was visiting, those properties were full. I was able to get one with a free breakfast but it appeared that supper was going to have to come out of my pocket.

On the first evening I got back to my room after a long, exhausting day. I piddled around, had a couple of beers to relax, and began looking at Google Maps for nearby restaurants. Google Maps, by the way, is a marvel. Before that fancy addition to the interwebs came along, you were relegated to looking at the motel literature, thumbing through the yellow pages, or just asking the desk clerks or other motel staff the age old question, “where’s a good place to eat around here?”

I browsed for what seemed to half an hour. I was checking out what the establishments served, how far away the places were, and any other detail which would give me a clue as to whether or not it would provide for a decent meal. Needless to say, after a futile search I took a break, and just stood at the window and gazed at the surrounding landscape.

It was then that I noticed on the far side of the parking lot, a Waffle House. And I realized, that although I stop there for breakfast from time to time, that I hadn’t eaten a meal there at any other time of the day in years. And, after all, breakfast for supper once in a while is just a delicacy in and of itself. So, Waffle House was the choice.

I walked up the hill to front door of this fine institution, entered, and made my way to the counter. I was greeted by the cook and a young waitress and took my seat. I grabbed a menu and looked it over front and back. After a few seconds, I made up my mind. No breakfast on this day, I was going to go with the cheeseburger and a side of hash browns with a cold diet coke to wash it down.

The reason I went with the burger on this day is simple. Memories flooded into my head as I sat down and took in the odors emanating from the stove top that the cook was manning. My father used to be a route salesman.

When I was a kid, I used to ride with him after school and during the summer when school was out. My favorite thing when I rode with him on his route was to stop at one of those old local diners that used to populate at least one storefront in every small town. He always bought me a burger, fries, and cold drink and it was just about the best thing I ever ate. And it seemed like in every one of these places that they would sauté those burgers with some onions which just filled the air with an aroma that would make your mouth water. And on this day, when I walked into that Waffle House, I would swear to you, that is exactly what I smelled.

So, I placed my order with the young lady, she passed it on to the cook in a loud voice (although only a few feet away), and I waited for my food. And then out of nowhere, another waitress appeared and began to do some tidying or some other chore directly behind the counter from where I was seated. She was a short woman, with wild curly red hair, expressionless as she tended to her work, and appeared to be about my age. I spoke to her, asking “How are you, today?” At that, she lifted her head, smiled, and said, “You know, I’m doing well. And I’m truly blessed far more than I deserve.” I smiled back and said, “You know, I guess I am, too. I guess sometimes I just don’t think about it in that way enough.”

I wanted to inquire as to why she felt that way when she continued, “You know, I’m almost 60 years old, and have a clean bill of health. But, back in March, it wasn’t such a rosy outlook for me.” I was hooked now and asked her why. She stated that she had to be hospitalized and the doctors had no clue what was causing her problems. She had blisters on her legs, appeared to be showing signs of some contagious, exotic disease, was quarantined, and initially thought to be near death’s door. As it turned out, she was having an allergic reaction to some medication she had been prescribed. But, through the ordeal she was checked out thoroughly, tested endlessly, and in the end dismissed from that hospital and declared healthy as the proverbial horse.

I smiled as I listened to her describe her ordeal. It made me think of all the blessings I have enjoyed in my life. I also told her how much I enjoyed her sharing that story with me. I spoke to her about how I came to be sitting in front of her and how the Lord certainly wants us to try to touch other people’s lives as much as possible. She smiled, heartily agreed, and we “fist bumped” to seal the deal.

She returned to her work and soon went into the back store room to take care of some other task as I finished my meal. I looked down the counter, through the port hole in the door, and hoped she would look out and see me. You see, I had one last thing to do before I left the Waffle House on this day. I lingered, drank the last drops of my drink, ate a little of the ice, and checked my cell phone. I took some money out of my wallet and left it on the counter with the bill as she came out of the back room. I stood, walked down to where she was working and spoke to her. She looked, smiled and approached the booth where I was kneeling on the seat as I slid closer to her side. “You know” I said, “I just want to hug your neck.” Again she smiled and embraced me like a mother hugs a long lost child that she hasn’t seen in days. She told me her name was Sue and I introduced myself. I warmly thanked her for talking to me, told her that she had, indeed, made this weary traveler’s day, and then turned to leave.

I tell you this story to simply say this. The reward for touching a person’s life is as great for you as it is for them. Sometimes, your friendliness will be politely dismissed and sometimes you’ll run into someone like Sue. Yes, she’s a quiet, unassuming woman. But, she’s remarkable, all the same. She toils away for little monetarily gain, but the many lives she touches are surely better off than they were before encountering her makes her quite rich if you think about it.

Until Next Time –

I’m Harley Hanesworth

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