I finally arrived at the Manchester, New Hampshire airport around nine at night. We fly in there because it takes less time to get to my grandparents house in a Boston suburb from Manchester than it does from the Boston airport. Traffic and all that.
We were supposed to get there at five, but there was so much snow in Manchester that we had to divert to Boston, wait for the snow to pass, and then return to Manchester.
I actually like the delay, though. I love everything about traveling, including being stuck on a plane doing nothing. There's something very pleasant about being totally isolated from the rest of the world.
I got to climb up on the baggage carousel at the airport. A bag's handle got stuck in the conveyer belt, so I tried to be a hero and dislodge it. In my dream world it would have become dislodged and I'd get a short but exhilarating ride on the baggage carousel. They always look so fun.
My grandparents picked up my mother and I.
"Are you two hungry?"
We were, so we went to Bertucci's in North Andover (I give the exact location so that people nearby can go experience my story firsthand if they want). As we drove by it looked closed.
There were still some cars in the parking lot, though.
Sure enough, they were open for another twenty minutes. The place was otherwise empty... surely the staff was hoping to leave a little early.
The hostess got up from the table she was sitting at and went behind the podium at the front of the restaurant.
She was trying her best not to show her disappointment.
We sat down and began poring over the menu. When I go to a new restaurant I have to look at every single dish and assess the level of offensive ingredients in each one. I try to find the best dish that will allow the fewest substitutions to become acceptable. Taste has nothing to do with it - I just don't want to be that annoying customer.
"Hey guys! My name is Amy!"
Amy looked to be about 16. Average height, wiry build, and long frazzled red hair in a ponytail. Huge brown eyes.
She stood with her head cocked one way and her hips the other way. She was smiling, but there was something peculiar about her smile.
It wasn't that forced I-am-a-waitress-robot smile, but rather a smile of genuine happiness. We all noticed and were shocked.
"What can I get you guys to drink?"
"I'll have a martini, extra dry... " began my grandfather.
"A martini! I'm a martini girl myself!"
Really? She's old enough to drink?
"That's my kind of girl! How do you drink yours?"
She squinted and scrunched up her face a little bit. Depending on the age of consent in Massachusetts and her actual age, it may have even been alluring.
"Dirty. REALLY dirty."
"I like a lot of olive juice, and just a little vermouth. It's REALLY good. Do you want to try it? I'll go make it for you myself."
My grandfather smiled. Hurricane Amy had hit our table and we had no idea what to make of her. Equally surprising was that my grandfather agreed to have his martini her way. He's so particular that even I, a non drinker, know exactly how he likes them.
Despite us just beginning to eat our entrees at closing time, Amy was in no rush to get rid of us. In what is no doubt her signature pose, with her hips and head cocked, she stood next to our table talking to us for quite a while.
I talked about my trip. She talked about how often she gets arrested.
Finally we finished and she brought the check. She commented on my grandfather's credit card.
"Amy, do you have a credit card?"
"Yeah. A few of them!"
She rolled her eyes a bit. She never said anything that wasn't accompanied by some sort of facial expression or hand gesture.
"And do you pay the balances in full every month?"
My grandfather is in the credit business, but it still seemed a little personal.
"Ha! I wish!"
"Amy... you have to pay your balances in full. Otherwise you'll always be in debt. What are your interest rates?"
Much to the amusement of my grandmother, my mother, and myself, they launched into a full conversation about her credit situation.
"I'm not THAT bad! I don't just pay the minimums!"
"Now Amy... I pay my full balance every month. It's important. My daughter pays her balance every month. Tynan pays his balance every month. You need to pay every bill as soon as you get it. You get thirty days, but forget that! Don't be a floater. Me? I'm a floater. You shouldn't be a floater. Don't float, Amy."
She gave us her full schedule so that my grandfather could check on her financial progress.
"I work here Tuesday nights and Wednesday nights. Then the rest of the nights except for Saturday I work at another restaurant. On Saturdays I go downtown and dance."
Instantly all four of us thought the same exact thing.
"She's a stripper!"
But she wasn't. She teaches kids ballet.
We left the restaurant and immediately all started talking about Amy and how great she was.
"That's the best waitress I've ever had!"
"She was amazing!"
"Did you think she was a stripper too?"
It's two days later and we're still talking about her. At our dinner tonight we remarked that our waiter was "no Amy". I'm even writing a blog entry about her (and these days I write like... 1 a month). I can't remember the last time I even remembered a waitresses' name.
Amy really drove home the importance of being totally authentic at all times. We were two senior citizens, a middle aged woman, and me, and she didn't even think to filter herself. She giggled and told us about how she kept getting arrested without ever thinking about what we'd think of her.
And you know what? We all appreciated it.