Waffle House People

This morning I sat down to pecan waffles topped with fresh strawberries at the kitchen table of my sister Col. Peggy and brother-in-law General Doc. The conversation soon drifted to Waffle House stories.

“Have you ever heard of the Waffle House Index?” my sister asked. No, I had not.

The Waffle House Index, she informed me, is a method the federal government uses to assess the severity of a natural disaster. It’s a real thing, she said, originated by a former FEMA director.

I looked it up on the internet. If, after the disaster has hit, Waffle House restaurants in the area are open and offering a full menu, the index is green. If open but with a limited menu, the index is yellow. If a disaster is so bad that Waffle Houses are closed, the index is red.

FEMA cites Waffle House as one of a very few companies that have an emergency preparedness plan that allows them to keep operating, even if on a limited basis, after a natural disaster.

If you are caught in a flood, blizzard, hurricane, or other disaster, and are hungry, head for the nearest Waffle House. It’s your best bet.

AT A WAFFLE HOUSE, you walk in and seat yourself. There’s always a friendly greeting. The cooking is done right on the other side of the counter. Your waitress or waiter is only a few steps and a wave of the hand away. They don’t try to start you off with cocktails or appetizers. The menu doesn’t have 200 choices. Prices are low and the food is good. There’s constant friendly banter among the staff and between customers and staff.

What’s not to like?

Pecan waffles with coffee and a side order of bacon is the default menu choice for both Honey and me when we walk into a Waffle House. We don’t eat there often, but are always glad when we do.

When I was working for PA Cyber Charter School, I had to meet a man out of town for business reasons. He suggested a Waffle House. The staff was so much fun that I took selfies with them after the meal.

One of Honey’s favorite stories is about when she and her sister Maria went into a Waffle House restaurant. Honey ordered pecan waffles, and Maria said she’d have the same.

Only problem is, Maria hates nuts. When her waffle came, she had to pick out the pecans.

“What did you expect when you ordered a pecan waffle?” Honey asked.

Maria said she didn’t know, but somehow it wasn’t that there would be nuts in her waffle.

ON A TRIP TO VISIT Worshrag, we got to town in late afternoon. Our son was working late, so my wife and I cruised the streets of his college town, looking for someplace for the two of us to have supper.

I spotted a steakhouse we shall call Dixie and Phil’s. We were greeted by a small man whom I assume was Dixie. He could have been Phil. He showed us to a table and left menus.

From the looks of the clientele, we might have wandered into a country club. The waiters were all slender young men in black pants, bow ties and white shirts with long sleeves. Some of them probably caddied that morning. Nothing on the menu was under $25.

We would have sucked it up and ordered if someone had waited on us, but no one did.

“Do you want to leave?” I whispered to Honey after we had waited 15 minutes.

She did. On our way out we waved to Dixie, or Phil, and headed for the Waffle House up the street, where we ordered – you guessed it – pecan waffles.

“Face it: we’re just Waffle House people,” I told my wife.


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