The present-time emotional effects of a thing felt or not seen may result in goose bumps or gooseflesh. It may be considered a coat of love. A warning. Something fearful or any number of things. But what it is not is bad, wrong or something shameful. When the hair on your arms (or the back of your neck) stands on end and your skin exhibits goose bumps, something’s up. I’m not sure what. But something is.
One of the neat aspects of my job as a cashier and erstwhile host in a busy restaurant is that I get to speak to a vast amount of people from a variety of different backgrounds. When I merely stood behind a bar at a famous northwest side pizza establishment it was sort of the same but now as an actual, “How’s the food? How you doin’?” kind of a guy, it’s a bit different. My establishment has something called, ‘table touches’ which means the host does what I just described.
Ask the patrons if there’s anything they need. Were the cashiers that took their order friendly. Is there anything they need right now, sorts of things. And of course – finally – to encourage them to perhaps share their experience via the survey at the bottom of their long, white receipt. Of course there are other responsibilities which are not quite as refined as knowing what to say or how to say it, like cleaning tables and sweeping floors and making sure trash receptacles are emptied regularly – but I guess it’s ~ALL~ in a day’s work.
I have a joke that’s a surefire winner each and every time I feel the need to flex my stand-up comedy muscles during my table touches. It has never failed me yet. But something happened tonight that bought out the goose bumps in both myself and to the entire table with whom I shared my story. For posterity I will share that joke here. Trust me. It’s a true winner in the telling but it may not read quite right written out.
This lady dies and goes to heaven and St. Peter says to her, “ Whoa, whoa, whoa ma’am not so fast we have a new rule to get in here.” And the woman says, “What do I have to do to get in here?” St. Peter tells her, “I give you a word and you spell it for me and then you may enter heaven.” The lady replies, “Piece of cake. I have been preparing for this moment my entire life as I have done word searches, crossword puzzles and watched The Wheel of Fortune every night.” St. Peter says, “Ma’am, spell the word, ‘love’, for me.” The woman says, “That’s easy. It’s spelled L, O, V, E,” and St. Peter says to her, “You may now enter Heaven. But can you do me a favor? I have been standing here checking ID all day would you mind watching the Pearly Gates for me for just a moment while I step off? I’ll be right back.” The woman responds, “I got you, St. Peter. No problem.”
No sooner than a few seconds goes by and her husband steps through a cloud and says, “Hi, honey.” The wife looks puzzled at him and asks, “Honey? What are you doing here?” The husband replies, “Honey, I’m sorry but there was an accident on the way to your burial and now I’m standing in front of you.” The woman looks at her husband and says, “Not so fast there, Buster. St. Peter’s got a new rule to get in here. You have to be able to spell a word.” The husband looks at his wife and says, “Honey: you know and I know that I was a much, MUCH better speller than you were in our previous lives. What’s the word?” And the wife looks at the husband and says, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
Until tonight, tell, tell, tell, tell, laugh, laugh, laugh. Maybe a smirk, a sly, ‘that was cute’ sort of glance but mostly laughs. Until tonight.
A family was seated on our outdoor patio. Two gentlemen seated on my left and a man and woman seated on my right as I faced the table at its end. Four people. I told the joke and the whole while one of the patrons was looking at me smirking. The all laughed – in retrospect – to my amazement. And immediately afterwards the woman seated next to her husband says to me, “It’s funny you bring that up.” And the other gentleman seated next to the smirking man says, “Right”, in agreement with the woman. “Did someone put you up to this? We all can’t help but to think that right now, right?
The husband seated there next to the woman, says, “It’s impossible.” The woman goes on to say at this point that her mother-in-law passed away a night or two ago and that she indeed watched The Wheel of Fortune every night and did ‘word searches’. Now I am completely at a loss for words and have no idea what to say except to say that I assured them I was not told to tell them that story. “We’re all getting goose bumps right now. Throughout the whole joke.” I replied, “Look at my arms. Me too. Please do accept my sincere condolences by the way. I had no idea. Please forgive me. Had I known I would have never…..”
“Oh, it’s alright. It was cute and describes my mother-in-law to a tee. There must be a reason you told us that joke.”
(Yes. Because it’s an ice-breaker and my, ‘go to’ joke. It’s part of my own personal touch as a host at this restaurant. It’s what sets me apart from the person who doesn’t care to the person who cares.) And in that moment, of goose bumps, trust me, I cared more than I had probably ever cared before. I felt humiliated, embarrassed and the goose bumps would not stop. As I was changing the outside trash on my restaurant’s terrace and placed a new liner into the receptacle, I bid them all a good night, apologizing again. The man and woman said that they were not quite done yet but the gentlemen seated with them were leaving. “We need to buy a few things from your ‘to go’ area.”
“Okay, folks, thank you again for coming out tonight.” Off I went to the back of house trash area to drop off the garbage bag from the outdoor patio seating. As I came back I saw the husband and wife with a few bags of items we sell near the door and again I apologized. We exchanged some more conversation about the joke and the coincidence and spoke about how all of us may have been bought together this evening for whatever reason. (Still experiencing good bumps this second conversation with these folks.)
“Maybe there was some supernatural force at work that bought you into our life tonight. All this food we’ve bought just now in your ‘to go’ area is for our guests at the commemoration of Mom tomorrow night.” Whispering now. “Mom was cremated with a ‘word search’ book.”
“Enjoy the memories and your guests,” I replied, choking back some true emotions and going on to say finally, “Maybe your family was sent to ME tonight for some strange reason. It could be the other way around entirely.” I could barely get through the sentence.
I then told the folks to come back and visit us again. All three of us, all smiles, thankfully.
Sometimes, you just never know, you know?
Word Count: 1278 Post # 1280