A Flirtatious Encounter
I start off my journey as a broke 24-year-old college student who wakes up to another day of taking orders and bussing tables - who just happens to have a physical disability that I don’t let it stop me. I actually feel inclined to stop my regulars from giving me extra tips because I never want to feel like I am taking advantage of them as they’re just trying to be good samaritans and all. Make no mistake, I’m damn good at my job. I use my wheelchair to carry plates and I put the beverages in my 2 slot cup holder. Some of my coworkers give me shit behind my back and say I have a bit of an advantage since I don’t have to carry anything - but I cancel out the noise. Besides, they have cars and legs that don’t spaz out. That’s technically an advantage they have over me but you don’t hear me acting pressed. Besides, customers genuinely like me because of my natural-born charm, my signature perfectly applied red lipstick, and Crest White glistening smile.
I walked over to Jill and Frank, one of my favorite pairs of regulars.
“Hi, Serenity! So lovely to see you again darling.” Jill beamed as she spoke in her warm southern vernacular.
“You too as always Ms. Jill! You look good!” I nodded for emphasis as I eyed her curve hugging, solid red blouse with polka dots, complemented by her short but thick, brown and grey tinged curly afro lob.
“Sweetie pie I told you, you can just call me Jill. Having the “Ms” in front of it just makes me feel old.” She chuckled and nodded her head left to right a couple of times.
“That’s because we are old honey.” Her chocolate skinhead husband Frank chimed in, in a matter-of-fact way, his chestnut orbs glaring playfully in her direction.
“Oh, stahppp” Jill laughed as she hit her husband playfully. He laughed from his chest as he shrugged at me.
“Watch ya self, Mr. Carson.” I playfully pointed in his direction with my pen clicked open.
“You know I just like to kid.” He smiled.
I smiled looking down at my pad. “I’m assuming you guys are gonna have the usual today - poached eggs, bacon, and pancakes with fruits on the side? Mr. Frank, a Sprite with ice for you and for you Ms. Jill a seltzer water?”
“She has the memory of a sponge this kid. Reminds me of when I was a 20 somethin', you know before they had colored tv and what not.” Frank quipped
“Frank you jokester. he knows we had color tv back then!” Jill playfully hit him on the elbow speaking in my direction.
Frank humorously shrugged in my direction while I giggled, puzzled at how he kept a straight face while making quips like these.
I glanced past Frank for a second, causing me to briefly make eye contact with an extremely attractive man with turquoise orbs. Gary. He gave me a gentle smile and slicked back his grey hair with the palm of his hand. I grinned back, way less professionally than my typical customer smile. I quickly came to my senses and drove my power chair to the kitchen’s order station, trying to remind myself to remain professional for the reason that I had to serve that table in about 5 minutes.
“Hello, sir. What can I get for you today?” I smiled professionally
“Let’s see, may I have... ″ Gary paused, semi-convincingly as his eyes fluttered across the pages of the 2 page -open menu. Yet, I somehow predicted he was most likely going to follow up with some flirtatious pickup line.
I lightly tapped my pen against my notepad, about ½ a second away from rolling my eyes.
“I’m sorry, I’m just not in the mood for shepherd’s pie, french toast.. It’s all just too conventional for me, y’know?
“Uh-huh” I nodded, a skeptical gaze on my face.
“I’d much prefer a date with this gorgeous waitress in front of me instead.”
I opened my mouth a bit surprised - a glimmer of nervous blush shading my face. I quickly hid it with my hands.
Okay Chanti. I thought. I always refer to myself as my family nickname in my head. Your professional persona is not allowed to crack for approximately the next hour and thirty minutes. You got this. Just because he is a customer and you have to be somewhat polite, does not mean you cannot politely reject his advances.
I cleared my throat, smiling a bit. “I prefer not to engage romantically with my clients.”
“The good girl next door vibe is not working on me Ms. Waitress. You’ve got to be hiding something behind the pearly-white smile and red lip color getup, which is very believable I’ll admit." Gary nodded his head slightly after finishing his sentence, smirking.
I allowed myself to play along for a bit. I rested my knuckle onto my cheekbone, inching forward in my powerchair, being careful to avoid falling mistakenly. I quickly adjusted my position to be more upright.
“Well, certainly not more than you’re hiding under the comb-over and beard thing you got going on!” I laughed endearingly while nodding my head for emphasis.
“Touche, Ms. Serenity.” Gary chuckled as he narrowed his eyes. It was like he was Medusa and I was in danger of being frozen in stone the way he stared at me. It was as if he viewed me as something that held great mystically. It felt as if we’d locked eyes eternally as I finally collected myself.
“Would ya please jus'... order somethin’ so I can go to the kitchen and cool off for a few minutes? The persona won’t be as convincing if I look like a strawberry for the rest of our interaction.”
So much for remaining professional Chanti.
“Fair enough Ms. Waitress” Gary nodded his head, knowing he was affecting me now. I had to regain control.
“My name is Serenity. I prefer to be called Chanti or Chantelle, but you gotta stop the whole Ms. Waitress thing. It sounds like you’re trying to pledge submission to me or something.
“So she does have a backbone!” Gary quipped.
I smeared my hazel orbits at him, opening my mouth to make way for words but pausing so I could come up with the perfect line. I briefly looked in the other direction, carefully not allowing myself to smile too hard.
“Speechless. I see I have that effect on you Ms. Chanti.
My eyes landed back on Gary’s greyish blue-tinted orbits.
“Y’know what? Jus’ for that you’re getting the special of the day.” I laughed gently and put my pen on the pad.
Gary’s eyes went wide. “But everyone despises the Special of the Day. It’s Tuesday Chanti! Tuesday! The Special of the Day is terrible on Tuesday!”
“Well, it’s whatcha get for mouthing off Mr. Comb-Over,” I smirked, proudly.
He huffed slightly, still smiling at me.
“If I have to eat the dreaded Special of the Day, may I at least take you on a date where you don’t have to pretend you aren’t starting to like me, just the slightest bit?”
My eyes lifted from my pad, I bit my lip slightly, looking in the opposite direction.
“What on Earth would ever make me consider doing something so unprofessional?”
“Aww it’s okay to pretend you’re not interested in getting to know me.” Gary slightly bit his lip, overdramatically. “How bout you come back with the deathly meatloaf and let me know before I leave so you have time to think it over?
I was so caught in his mesmerizing gaze that I neglected to have a clever comeback line. So, I settled for a simple head nod as I made my way to the order station once again.
After I put in Gary’s order for The (Deathly) Special of the Day, I made my way back to Jill and Frank’s table to clear it and give them the check.
“How was everything guys?” I inquired, making eye contact with them both as I spoke.
“Oh, we were fiiiine.” Frank replied.
I looked at him with a bewildered, yet amused expression plastered on my face.
“Don’t you even for one second think we didn’t see the way you and that guy 2 tables behind us were feeling each other.” Ms. Jill raised her eyebrows in a playful manner.
“Yeah he was totally digging you Chanti, I look at Jill the same way and we’ve been married 30 years.” Frank told me as he eyed his wife lovingly.
“Oh, ya mean Gary? You guys that was jus...’ y’know, whatever!”
“Not by the way you blushin', it wasn’t.” Ms. Jill nodded confidently.
I paused and sighed, trying to conceal the grin forming on my face.
I scoffed and continued to blush out of embarrassment and excitement. “I’mma see y’all next week!”
“Go out with him!” Jill’s pitch grew loud enough for me to hear as I wheeled back over to Gary’s table. It was audible enough for him to hear as well, and he made that clear as I placed the plate of meatloaf in front of him.
“She’s talking about me!” Gary grinned, his arm leaning on top of the booth.
“Try not to look so pleased with yourself?” I pleaded, somewhat kiddingly.
“You’ll have to forgive me as I cannot contain my excitement.”
I rolled my eyes, the grin that formed minutes ago not leaving my face.
“I’m gonna go grab the check, 'kay? Be right back.”
“Another excuse to get away for a minute so you can have the opportunity to collect yourself?” Gary inquired.
“Look, if this is gonna have the potential to work out, you’re gonna have to stop vocalizing your accuracy during moments like these. Understood?” I inquired, a bit frustratedly due to the fact that he was able to crack my professional exterior.
“Understood.” he smiled.
I drove my power chair around to the back of the diner, back to the kitchen station and finally, back to the table where Gary was seated.
“Back from your recuperation break I see. Didn’t miss me too much right?" Gary leered, the corner of his lip turning up and eyebrow lifting.
“Not as much as you missed seeing me, Comb -Over.” I smirked right back, tilting my head and putting on my best “I gotcha” face as if to communicate to him “I can do that too!”
His face became tinted by multiple hues of red, and I couldn’t have been more proud than in that moment. I was affecting him.
“He’s speechless!” I dramatically stated, my mouth agape and hand covering it gently for emphasis.
Gary gazed at me amused. “Clever, incaptivating me by throwing my own words back in my face like that.” He indeed, genuinely impressed.
“Why, thank you! It just adds the cherry on top considering I technically made you eat them earlier. Y’know because of the whole meatloaf ordeal?”
“Ya sure did, Chanti.” he chuckled. Hearing him use my childhood nickname did give me quite a few butterflies in my stomach.
“So, if I may ask, what is your consensus on our date?” Gary wittingly inquired.
I looked away from his direction, a smirk and thoughtful gaze forming on my face. Although I already knew my answer, I didn’t want to end our encounter too predictably. So, I reached into the left pocket of my uniform and grabbed a black Sharpie. Feeling bold, I moved my power chair closer and reached for his left arm, not too far out of my reach. I then proceeded to scribe my phone number onto his cleanly shaved forearm.
“Feel free to use that, Comb-Over.” I smiled gently, then grinned wholeheartedly.
“I will most certainly do that Chanti,” Gary grinned.
He filled out the check and scribbled something out of my peripheral vision.
“I’ll be seeing you again Girl Next Door.” Gary declared quite smoothly, leaving his seat.
I went to cash in the check when I came to the realization that he’d left a not on it that read: “Can’t wait to uncover the many mysteries hidden behind your convincing work persona, beautiful girl next door ;)” - Gary.
I was even more surprised to find his number next to the tip field that had a scribed amount of $1,000.