Open Letters/Open Envelopes: A Break Up Letter To Waffle House
04 September 2012Written by Laura Straub
Waffle House, you’re the only thing holding me back from being a true Georgian. I’ve lived in Atlanta for four years and have yet to walk through your doors. Last time I went to Waffle House, I was cursed. That was June 24, 2007. Ever since that day the mere mention of your name makes me shiver. Nothing, not even a free birthday breakfast, could bring me back.
Once I was the backup singer and piano player in a six-piece folk band. We went on a nationwide tour in the summer of 2007. Things started to change the morning we left Tahlequah, Oklahoma. We went to Waffle House that day for the same reason most bands do: cheap and filling food. And because our front man was giddy at the prospect of eating and smoking at the same time.
Our waitress’s nametag donned only two letters.
“What does the TC stand for?” our front man asked. TC was also tattooed on the aged and veined hand that scribbled down our orders. His question sparked a smile–she was missing many teeth.
Trouble Comin’s face was a series of canyons as old and parched as the terrain she lived in. Her skin hung as loosely as her uniform. She filled our coffee cups and asked if we needed cream and sugar. Our drummer said yes. “Oh! You like your coffee like I like my men,” she winked “White, hot, sweet and ready!”
Her face came to mind two hours later when the bus began to shake violently on the highway. I looked to my band mates. They white-knuckle gripped the edge of their seats. A bass head flew at me from the back of the cab. Our driver pulled the bus to the side of the highway and got out to investigate the damage.
It had been ten minutes since we had passed an exit. Our left rear tire was shredded.
Trouble Comin’ had cursed us.
We passed the Waffle House on the way back into town to get our tire fixed. We were three hours late to our show. Our bus broke down twice more on that tour, and by January the band was forced to break up due to a combination of exhaustion, the bus giving out and some difficulties with our contract and our record label.
Since then, I’ve regrouped. I graduated college, moved to Atlanta, got a great job, and got married. The other day my husband and I passed the Waffle House Museum off of College Avenue on our way to Avondale Estates. It was hard not to imagine Trouble Comin’ in there, filling coffee cups and taking orders for neon-yellow scrambled eggs. We joked about going there sometime, but I know I never will. It’s just not worth the risk.