Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More




A Tale Of A Grumpy Waitress And A Guy In A Diner

Buttercream Bakery & Diner, Napa, California, USA

September 1, 2017



"I'm not just a guy in a diner  about this ..." ...   bringing forth transformation as a rich body of distinctions 
"There's a place where I can go ..." ... The Beatles, There's A Place



There's a place where I can go for breakfast by myself sometimes when there's a free day on my calendar. I also sometimes go there when a scheduled day is due to start late. It's a diner known to and mostly frequented by the local townsfolk of Napa, the village in the wine country  in California where I live. It's definitely not on the tourist circuit. You'd have to be told about it. There's table service, and there's also a long counter where patrons sit on bar stools. I like to sit at the counter.

Whenever I go there, I always order the same egg and spinach dish, and a bottomless cup of coffee to go with it. Sometimes I take a USA Today  newspaper with me and do seven of its eight daily puzzles (eschewing one, the so-called Txtpert)  while I'm enjoying my breakfast. Sometimes I take my Lenovo L440  ex-IBM laptop computer and work on these Conversations For Transformation, sporadically watching the chefs slinging hash from the open grill in front of me, and taking in the passing people show. I enjoy going there. It's one of my favorite things to do when I have uninterrupted time to myself.

There's only one feature I dislike about the place. It's the grumpy waitress with the bluish tinted hair. Oh, she's very  grumpy. I don't enjoy it when she serves me. I always smile at her. But it doesn't do me any good: she's always grumpy and rushed with me. She's irritable. It's like she doesn't want to be there, and it's like she certainly  doesn't want to serve me. I try to be nice, but she gives me the impression I'm getting in the way of her doing something else she'd much rather be doing.

She never looks me in the eye. And even though she's served me umpteen  times before, she never acknowledges me or even seems to recognize me. She never says "Hello!". No, it's worse than that. It's if I greet her, she doesn't seem to hear: she ignores me and looks away. She's cold. She doesn't reciprocate my warmth. And I hate leaving her a tip - yet I do: as a duty  because I'm such a nice guy. But she doesn't deserve it (which the mutter mutter  in my head constantly reminds me of).

I watch her serving the other patrons. She's like that with them too. When she serves them, they all try to make nice with her - with the same predictable results as I get. Then they look around disbelievingly, roll their eyes, and shrug as she leaves. Why she's allowed to work there, is a total mystery to me (mutter mutter mutter).

After an intolerable number of occasions of her being like that, I became inured to it ie hardened to it. In spite of myself, I stopped looking at her. I gave up greeting her. When she'd grumpily ask for my order, I gave it to her in as few monosyllabic words as possible through gritted teeth, then went back to my USA Today puzzles.

One day, just as I was about to place my order and she was standing in front of me (and I was wishing this part of the arduous ritual would be done with quickly), something came over me. I don't know what it was, but whatever  it was, I was no longer willing to tolerate the situation. One minute I was willing to tolerate it / the next minute I wasn't. I looked up at her and, instead of avoiding eye contact, put a big smile on my face, and said (loudly and warmly) "Well, good morning  Flo!".

If you've ever seen the classic double take  they do in the cartoons, that's exactly  what she did. She blinked, turned away, then her head whipped back around, and she stared incredulously at me ... then, so faint it was barely perceptible at first, just the tiniest hint  of a smile creased her lips, and she said "Good morning Sir! What can I get you today?" softly, in a nervous stammer. And then she just stood there, pencil poised on her pad, looking at me, maintaining eye contact, waiting patiently.

I exhaled audibly, now in a state akin to disbelief - but for the opposite reason. I gave her my usual order, this time animatedly and excitedly. "Coffee?" she then asked (another miracle:  she never  asked before: she just poured, then left). "Oh would  you please?"  I said, then after she'd filled my cup, "Thank You so much!". "You're welcome Sir!" she said, smiling warmly, looking at me intently, then walked away ... and then turned around and looked back at me, again incredulously.

The impossible  had happened.

Flo and I now have a great relationship ie a totally new  relationship. The grumpy waitress with the bluish tinted hair is now a completely transformed person - at least, she is when she serves me (and I'm not just a "guy in a diner"  about this ...). Now when she serves me, she's present, she's alive, she's smiling and attentive, and she maintains eye contact. She's cleaned up her act with me. And I swear  my breakfast even tastes better as a result - and it tasted pretty darn good before.

Amazingly, she may also have cleaned up her act with the other patrons too. But I can't say for sure: the thing is they may have to clean up their  act with her  first.



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