(originally posted 1/11/2020)
“Here’s the problem I have been having with your establishment” the man began in a calm and even tone. Before him stood an earnest young woman holding a small notepad, seemingly eager to take his order in a timely fashion.
What onlookers, if there were any (which there weren’t), might not know is that this was not the first time this particular man had begun this particular conversation at that particular diner. If he’d begun attempting to let a waitress know how he would like his hash browns prepared one time he’d done it a dozen.
“I always order my hash browns well done and every time they are presented to me, they are in fact not well done. Every single solitary time. No matter how much I beg and plead during the ordering phase I am still presented with hash browns that are the furthest thing from well done.”
The young lady shifted her weight from one foot to the other and said, “So you want them well done?”
“No. I want them extraordinarily well done. The wellest done that this eatery has ever prepared.”
“Ok” the waitress replied, then added “I will tell the chef to make sure they are well done” with a reassuring nod of her head.
The man, clearly not satisfied with this, continued. “I have heard these very promises a number of times from individuals just as sincere as yourself and have yet to have been satisfied with the end results. Please allow me to elaborate about how I would like my hash browns prepared.”
Not seeing an option, the woman shifted her weight back to the original foot and gave the man her undivided attention.
“When you place the order, I want you to tell the chef to put my hash browns on the grill and then walk away and forget about them completely. Go do his taxes or pick up his kids from school. Put them entirely out of his mind until such a time as the smell of burning hash browns reaches his nose. It’s at this moment that I need you to spring into action and restrain him. Do not allow him to approach my hash browns. It is imperative that you do whatever is necessary to keep him away from the grill. Even as my hash browns are engulfed in flames, I want you to whisper in his ears “They are almost done…. just not yet” and keep him from applying his spatula to my precious shredded potato side dish. He will struggle and use profanity but hold him you must. Thick black smoke will begin to pour out of the kitchen and the fire department will be summoned and yet you must whatever it takes to keep my hash browns on the grill a little longer. Every second counts.”
The man paused, having delivered the previous monologue without the benefit of a breath of air.
He then resumed after a long inhale and exhale.
“News helicopters should be circling the diner before the fire chief finally removes my hash browns from the grill. Do you now truly understand exactly how well done I want my hash browns?” the man inquired.
“Really well done?” the waitress offered hopefully.
“Yes. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Well done.”
(One hour later)
“This is Sarah Johnson reporting from the scene of a local fire. Behind me you can see the charred and still smoldering remains of Lucky’s Diner.”
The camera pans back and forth across the blackened structure and the parking lot filled with curious onlookers. And one man sitting on the curb with a plate in front of him. On that plate sits something charcoal black. It is impossible to tell what exactly it is.
The man tucks his napkin under his chin, produces a fork from his pocket and smiles broadly.