Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Lunch Counter Theater

"It takes two of you to carry this one little bag?" asked the Captain of the Counter as she handed a take-out order to two young men.
"Well, we're busy today," came the workers' feeble answer.
"If you were busy, one of you wouldn't be here," came the quick answer.

Meet Jackie Tipton. She can fire off retorts from behind the lunch counter at Broadwater Drugs faster than she can . . . well, than anything. A sign behind the counter reads: "I have two speeds. If you don't like this one, you really don't want to see the other one."

"Would you like some more iced tea?" she asked me.
"Yes, please," I answered.
"Just wait," I was told.

If you fidget at the register, you will receive a stare of admonition. So, seeing state troopers waiting patiently at the register to pay for their meal was of no surprise to the regulars at the counter. Jackie plays no favorites.

"Where have you been?" asked Jackie of one of the troopers. "Are you afraid of me?" she continued without waiting for a reply. "If you come in more often, I wouldn't yell at you," she said without smiling.
She then switched the conversation's tone to express her sympathies to the trooper about his father's death.

"Jackie, I can't make this hot dog order. We're out of buns," said the cook at the grill.
"He can eat it on bread. It won't hurt him," came Jackie's response, relating to my hot dog order.
Upon hearing that response, one of the customers got up and walked across the street to the dollar store. He returned quickly with a package of hot dog buns before the hot dog was off the grill.
Talk about customer loyalty.

"Is this your first time here?" Jackie asked Kate.
"Yes, it is," was the answer.
"It'll be your last," Jackie responded.
"She makes a great burger," interjected a customer behind Kate, waiting to pay her bill.
"And we get all this free entertainment," was Kate's Jackie-quick retort.
And a slight smile crossed Jackie's face. It was quick, but Kate got Jackie to smile.

We have visited cities that have revitalized their downtown district with a theater as the focus of the effort. Gate City, VA, is a town that has its own "theater" in this ordinary drug store.

The theater's star announced to a customer, "I'll be 65 on Sunday."
"Are you going to retire?" asked Kate, fully aware of the unlikelihood of this occurring.
"I wouldn't give them the satisfaction," quipped Jackie, much to the delight of the few remaining people at the counter.

The marquee (in the first photo) should read: "Broadwater Drugs, starrring Jackie Tipton."

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