Part two of “In the Weeds” 🙂
“Did you see that?” the youngest one whispered as I weaved my way back toward them a few minutes later. My brow rose in curiosity, but I tried to ignore them, figuring it wasn’t any of my business.
“See what?” the redhead asked when I came closer.
“I saw it!” the oldest of the three women hissed, huffing and giving me one hell of an evil eye.
I gulped. What could I have possibly done in the last three minutes? I had just been getting their drinks!
“You switched Erin’s napkin!” accused the smaller girl, pointing a finger at me. I blinked.
The oldest woman rolled her eyes. “Don’t play coy, white girl! You know what you did.”
White girl? “No ma’am,” I corrected as politely as possible. “I’m afraid I don’t.” I moved to set the drinks down as she continued her rant, worried about keeping my composure if this escalated.
She scoffed. I winced at the sound. It was painfully obvious she didn’t believe a word coming out of my mouth. “With all that’s going on in the news today, I can’t believe we got a racist waiter in a restaurant like this!”
Excuse me? I’d hardly said a word to them thus far. Did they really think I was racist simply because I’d followed protocol? I pursed my lips and swallowed a peel of laughter at the absurdity of the situation. What was it Louise had said about dealing with unreasonable customers? My mind was drawing a blank. The woman’s eyes bore into me. Part of me was afraid, but the bigger half was simply bewildered. I bit the insides of my cheeks and glanced over. I could feel Hernández watching me. He couldn’t hear what was going on. Even so, something told me this was my first real test. He wanted to see if I would cave under pressure, whether or not I knew how to handle myself with those… unconventional requests. I took a deep breath and schooled my features. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Louise’s lips curl up slightly as she stifled a chuckle.
“Ma’am,” I implored, “You don’t understand. We—”
“Oh, I understand perfectly. You gave the white woman a white napkin.” Her voice was sour with distain.
I shook my head, fighting the impulse to smirk. “No Ma’am, that’s not what happened—” She cut me off with a snide snort before I could finish.
“Oh? Well then by all means, explain.”
“Ma’am,” I repeated. “We do this for every—”
“And you don’t see how racist that is? Giving out napkins based on skin color? Unbelievable!” Her eyes bulged and nostrils flared like those of a fire-breathing dragon. Her cheeks puffed to the size of a squirrel’s trying to store one too many nuts for winter. I looked away briefly to keep myself from collapsing into stitches at her irate expression.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry if I offended you in any way, but it’s just—”
“No, I’m sorry,” she spat. “I demand to speak to your manager immediately.”
For a moment, I was at a loss for how to respond. She really wanted to see the manager over a switched napkin? I locked gazes with Louise over their heads and raised an eyebrow. Are you hearing this?
Louise shook her head and shrugged as if to say, What can you do?
I bit my lip to keep from grinning. “Yes ma’am,” I replied with as much sincerity as I could manage, though from the way her frown deepened, I’m certain she noticed the hilarity playing in my eyes. “He’ll be right out.”
“Good.” The woman nodded once and continued to mumble. “Racist waiters in this day in age. Just incredible!”
I suppressed another smile and sauntered back to the kitchen.
“What’s the matter, Charlie? Mama Tiger got your tongue?” Hernández teased when he blocked me from passing through the door.
“Damn woman thinks switching the napkins is racist,” I snorted. “She wants to talk to you.”
Hernández looked as if he’d swallowed a lemon when he hid a guffaw behind his hand. “Wait, seriously? She’s pissed because we didn’t want black lint to get all over her friend’s white pants?”
“I tried to explain we only did it because it was protocol, but she’s too damn steamed to listen.”
I held up my hands in surrender. “Crazy, right? But try telling that to her.”
Hernández clapped me on the shoulder. “All right, I’ll go talk to her. Go help your other table.”
I nodded. “Good luck.”
“I think I’m gonna need it,” he muttered over his shoulder as he strode away.
“That you are.” I agreed. “Oh, and flaunt the fact that you’re Mexican, that might help.” I winked and his lips curled up just slightly.
“Sneaky kid. Maybe you’re not so bad after all.”
Smiling, I gave the smallest nod before turning to help my other table. “Neither are you sir,” I mused to myself as I walked. “Neither are you.”
Critiques and reviews always welcome! As always, keep making magic, word weavers!