It was no secret that Casey hated her job. She hated replacing napkins, hated cleaning up and most of all she hated the fake laugh that was basically mandatory after a customer told a joke if she wanted that tip. Flora’s Family was an old 50’s style diner her mother made her work at, complete with tacky uniforms. Apparently it “Built character”, being treated like nothing. Casey could recall numerous times when customers would degrade her (Sometimes because of her mothers ways) and for the sake of her job she would be silent.
“No if’s, ands, or buts young lady. You are sixteen now and it is time to start pulling your weight. This is your first step into adulting. I know it sucks honey but you'll appreciate things more when you pay for them.”
Her mother said when she complained about working the diner on her birthday.
“Casey! If your royal highness is done daydreaming, table four eggs are getting cold!”
Sebastien, the line cook, shook her out of her thoughts. Jaden went home early and somehow Casey inherited all of his tables.
She smoothed out her curly auburn hair, which had begun to stick to her sweaty forehead, threw on some server gloves, and grabbed the table's order. She swayed a little and had to fan herself. The Mississippi heat was definitely getting to her.
“Hello everyone! My name is Casey and I will be your new waitress. I have a steak omelette?”
She began passing plates around and thought everything was going fine until-
“Um Catherine, I ordered my pancakes fluffy and these are stiff! And this bacon, would you eat this? Does this look crispy to you?”
The woman with thick glasses and a bad haircut made a disgusted face and pushed her plate away.
“It’s Casey actually, and my apologies ma’am I was unaware. I can have that remade for you.”
Casey reached for the customer's plate but the woman slapped her hand away.
“Are you kidding me? Now I have to suffer and watch my family eat because of your mistake? Get out my face airhead,why don’t you make yourself useful and get me some syrup.”
The woman's daughter , a girl she recognized from school, smirked.
“Mom, my eggs are runny and I think I saw a hair?”
Casey could feel tears welling up in her eyes. The girl, Amber McBride, was known for being mean but this was a new level of evil.
“Oh, so you were going to poison my baby! Why on Earth don’t you have a hairnet on? Oh I recognize you now, you’re Abby’s girl right? My poor husband fell into your mothers clutches, I didn’t realize we were slumming it by coming here. I want to speak to the manager!”
Mr. McBride’s face turned bright red in what Casey assumed was embarrassment.
“That’s enough Lucille!”
He yelled and the other patrons in the diner began to stare.
“Okay ma’am I will get her for you.”
She left the table and immediately went to the back office.
“What was that all about sugar?”
The diner owner, Mrs. Flora rubbed Casey’s back as she sobbed.
Casey could barely get the words out before Mrs. Flora grabbed her hand and marched her to the table.
“Hello, My name is Flora, I am the owner of this fine establishment. What seems to be the problem?
Flora smiled warmly and Casey just knew that things were going to get very ugly. Mrs. Flora was a spunky older woman with tightly coiffed grey hair and skin like brown sugar. One thing for sure was she didn’t take any disrespect.
“Well Flora, I came here to have a meal with my family. I didn’t know that the service would be so shameful. The first kid did not pay attention to our orders and this one wasn’t helpful at all. She served us undercooked food and snapped at me. Something about her mom sleeping with my husband.”
Mrs.McBride said dramatically, looking on the verge of tears herself.
“Well darlin’, It just so happened that I heard your conversation with my Casey and I didn’t take too kindly to it. What you and her mother have going on is best left to adults wouldn’t you agree? It is her birthday today and I am absolutely horrified that you treated her this way. I suggest you pack it up and don’t come back unless you are ready to apologize to this young lady. This girl ain’t never done nothin to nobody and is one of my best servers.”
Mrs. Flora patted Casey’s hand proudly.
“Why I never! Come on Bill, and you better not tip!”
Mrs.McBride gathered her things while Mr. Mcbride shoved the exact change into Casey’s hands and followed his wife out. Casey took the money and put it in the register after thanking Mrs. Flora for standing up for her.
As Casey was getting ready to leave Mrs. Flora walked up to her and said
“Can you do me a favor and clean off table three for me honey?”
“For you? Anything.”
Casey smiled, putting her purse back in her locker. When she got to the table to her confusion there was a single slice of the diner’s special double chocolate cake and a folded piece of paper. She sat down to read it, surprised when a hundred dollar bill fell out.
We could not help but overhear how that table was treating you and on your birthday! You handled it well and even though we do not know you, we are very proud and hope you have a happy birthday. Enjoy the cake on us!
A tear fell from Casey’s eyes as she smiled. She grabbed the fork and began to eat her cake as the feeling of gratefulness settled over her.