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Saturday, June 25, 2011


A Spanish server in his sixties: short, glasses, dark gray hair. Whenever I see him he smiles brightly, bows slightly, and says, "Hellooo S.O.S!" Since a misunderstanding a month ago, he believes my initials are S.O.S. They are S.M.O. but I do not have the heart to correct him (again). He also calls me Mark Twain. 'Cause I am a writer, get it? Apparently, he could not think of a female.

[Sidenote: Coincidentally, he told me Mark Twain is not the author's "real" name and asked if I had a pen name. I told him Steph Bee and he instantly exclaimed, "Ohhhh I thought it would be S.O.S!"]

He is ridiculously generous and odd. If a server needs singers for a customer's birthday, he jumps at the chance, and follows the other singing servers like we are in a parade, clicking a fork and knife together "to create festive background music." Out of the blue, he gave me a mini stapler and told me to name it "Herbito" meaning, "Little Herb." One day he said goodbye by interlocking his pinky with mine and saying, "Have the sweetest night," while the next day, he placed his palm on mine, closed his eyes, and hummed softly, "I am feeling your vibrations. They are good vibrations."

He also loves kids. It does not matter if they are sitting at his table or another server's, he approaches them and shakes their hand. I caught him drawing an elephant on a styrofoam plate and he told me, "It is for the children, I think they will enjoy it!" I now notice he draws an elephant for every child he talks to. And I am not sure what he talks to them about. I have even seen him hold hands with a few as he leads them to the bathroom. The parents seem to appreciate it; however, my coworkers call him a pedophile.

Sometimes, I too, now look at him strange and wonder, "Why does he draw the children elephants? Or shake their hands like they are tiny adults?" Then I catch myself. Why is it so hard for people to believe someone could be so nice? How does a friendly man turn into a creepy man?

And who are we to judge each other anyway? Professional servers do not end up being servers without a story. No one wants this to be their career, and when it is, the person's esteem and hopes disappear. Why make it worse for someone who is in their own struggle? I once witnessed him walking out of the bathroom with his head down and his hand slapping it, repeating, "Stupid Hebert! Stupid Herbert!" Not sure what he did; but it does not matter.

On the back of my check pad I have collected, what I call, Herbert Wisdom. These are my favorites:

"Even if someone is sending you dark and bad energy, smile all the time."

"I save gracious acts."

"Don't let anybody's ego steal your smile."

"He is a lucky one!" (referring to the birthmark in my eye)

I conclude. Herbert is a nice, quirky man.

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