On Tuesday I flew back to Little Rock from Elmira, NY. With that sentence I probably just skipped over at least 7 potential acquaintances. It's pitiful, really. I sat right next to three people I didn't know on three different airplanes on the way back to Arkansas. I talked to some of them, but didn't formally introduce myself or get a single name. Can't say I was engrossed in a book or anything, I think I read the same version of Sky Mall three times. With a lot going on in my head, I just wasn't in the mood to put forth the effort. But apparently they weren't either, it's a two-way street.
My wife and I spent the next day loading all of the "stuff" in our custody into a 17' U-Haul. That Wednesday night, exhausted and hungry, I was craving something spicy. NY doesn't seem to know what 'hot' means when it comes to food. It seems really weird, actually- down south those red pepper flakes in the shakers at any given pizza joint will light you up fast with just a few tips of the wrist; here you can shovel enough on one slice to give every bite an audible crunch and be okay without a drink.
Anyway, I wanted something spicy before we left the land of jalapeños and Tabasco, so we went to a new Mexican restaurant in North Little Rock called Casa Mexicana. My wife pointed out one of the employees scurrying around the dining area and told me that he was a frequenter of Starbucks (therefore he must be the restaurant's manager). Toward the end of our meal, the man recognized the barista sitting across from me, approached our table, and we all struck up a conversation. That's how I met the amiable, pudgy fellow named Alex. He fits the theme of the eatery, ethnically speaking, and is still working on his English. It feels good to know that a nice waiter like him can afford Starbucks. Maybe not everything's wrong with the world.
The next morning we hit the road, and drove and drove and drove. Since this is about new people, and not a soap, I'll spare you the drama. The next morning, after our night at the Super 8 in Mason, OH just north of Cincinnati, we drove just across the street to a Bob Evans for breakfast. We certainly weren't expecting to be served by Bob himself! And we weren't, of course- that man died, no doubt from heart problems caused by his own cheese and sausage, a long time ago. But our waiter's name was Robert. Tall, slender, with a salt n' pepper mustache, probably going on 70.
The waiter had our food out in a flash. My wife seemed a bit shocked, "That was FAST!"
Bob threw down our plates with flair and gusto as he informed us, "They don't call me Rapid Robert fer nothin' !"
We held it back until he turned, but then nearly rolled out of our booth laughing. We tipped Rapid Robert generously and were on our way. After another long day of driving, and this morning's offload into a storage building, we are officially moved from AR to NY!