the booth banditMy first instinct was aggravation… It’s a habit I’ve honed and polished over the years and although I’m hesitant to toot my own horn, I’m pretty good at it. There aren’t  many that can jump higher than I can when I’m jumping to conclusions and even less who can fly farther when I’m flying off the handle… It’s an ugly trait that my type “A” personality comes by as honestly as one can in this fallen world. It’s like being a spoiled child, minus the cute and adorable.

As I rounded the corner of the restaurant, mid afternoon to get a quick bite to eat and scribble some ink on paper, I spotted him in my seat. He’s a regular too, but he wasn’t sitting in his regular seat. His backside was parked in mine… I didn’t say a word as I turned to sit in the next old two person booth across from the counter that overlooks the atrium; his, Mr. booth swiper’s seat.

The brown Formica table hadn’t been cleaned and there was onion smeared across the old brown imitation leather seat… enough to quell an appetite. I stood beside the booth waiting for the fairly new waitress to show back up from hiding to wipe the scrunge off the booth seat that wouldn’t have been my first choice.

The wandering waitress did finally show up in passing, feigning not seeing me standing there taking up the aisle as she rushed by. I backed up to in front of the seat stealer’s booth with the steam beginning to billow from under my collarless t-shirt.

The waitress that would have made Houdini proud reappeared with an irritated look on her face even though I was trying to disguise mine, “Can I get you something to drink?” she asked.

“Can I get this table and seat cleaned please?” I answered her question with my own.

I caught a glimpse of steam sneaking out from her uniformed collar as she turned without saying a word, looked we were about dead even. She went MIA for another five minutes as I stood beside the booth that had been hijacked by the bad man. I glanced over at the frazzled waitress standing about twenty-five feet away getting drinks for another table… I surmised a clean one.

Houdini’s great niece showed up again behind the counter across the orangish small ceramic tiles when our eyes met again, “I’m the only one here!” she called out in frustration. That’s when I remembered Lisa’s words from earlier in the day and my response to hers, “I’m going to be kind to strangers today..”

It’s interesting how powerful words are. I’ve been encouraged by every person that is going to leave a comment here today. Your words matter and carry more weight and merit than you can know. The encouragement we spend on one another doesn’t return void, for they are words from our Father and they belong to Him and come from the hearts that He indwells.

“I’ll have to get a dishrag,” she mumbled, fully out of sorts.

“Just give it to me, I can wipe it up, I’m not too proud,” I said gently and smiling. Her demeanor completely changed.

“No! I’ll get it, I know you would, I remember you,” she said kindly.

“Thank you!” I smiled, sliding into the soggy seat.

“You’re welcome,” she smiled warmly.

I felt better… I might even try to smile at the booth bandit.

Next time…