Waffles are Cool (or, "Crossing America, Part 1")

I live in a box stacked on top of other boxes where more people live. From a window in my box I can see stacks of boxes piled seven high and fourteen across, and I watch people move around inside their boxes. Eating. Watching TV. Playing the guitar. They live inside their boxes and I live inside of mine.

On lookout for waffles. New Mexico, 2014.
There is a nice, paved pedestrian trail where all the people go to exercise. Some people run and others walk. The men in spandex ride bicycles. Toned and fit mothers run behind heavy strollers. Young couples walk dogs. On Sunday mornings we take family walks, but the nice, paved pedestrian trail is too crowded. We stop to examine small blue flowers but the sleek men in spandex do not, and neither do the blonde yuppies with expensive earbuds and bare, sweaty backs and stomachs. We are like 80 year olds driving 35 on the freeway, a latent three-bike-and-five-runner-and-a-rollerblader pile-up. So we walk on the street instead, with the cars. It's safer.

At night I watch airplanes line up to land. They blink red, blue, purple, white against the night that never gets dark. It just turns husky orange, deep scarlet, inky purple with the streetlights and neon signs and headlights it absorbs from the city below. Cell phone towers with pinpricks of light on top stick the glowing sky so that we're never disconnected. But in this orderly metropolis of humanity arranged carefully in residential boxes and moving in a proper two-lane flow down smooth pedestrial paths for lunchbreak exercise, I feel disconnected sometimes.

In a Days Inn in a place called Thibodaux, Louisiana they offer free breakfast from six to ten in the morning, which is the least they can do for being located in a place called Thibodaux. There was an old man in a uniform piddling around the dining area when I brought my kids in for breakfast. He was tidying up, wiping syrup off the tables, reordering the salt and pepper shakers. Halen said he wanted a waffle. Before I could respond, the old man was pouring batter into the waffle machine. "I got yer waffle, young-un," he said in a warm, lilting drawl.

"Oh," is all I could think to say, in kind of a surprised and grateful way, because the janitor was making my son a waffle. And then he made my daughters waffles. And he made me a waffle. He just stood there for ten minutes making waffles for my family, whistling. Whistling. And as he finished each waffle he bathed it in syrup and slid it in front of each delighted child, saying something like, "That'll do ya, darlin'," or "You lap that up there, son." And then with a grandfatherly grin he shuffled off, and we just sort of looked at each other, like, "This Days Inn is pretty cool." Because somehow the old janitor wove with waffles and syrup a human connection that cell towers and airplanes and stacks of boxes full of people cannot. And that is pretty cool.