It was a cold December day, like most are in the region. Where we are holds no relevance to these happenings with one minor exception that we should observe; We are at a Denny's. For the un-initiated, this means we have found the one constant in the universe known to us. The one point of reality where every plane of existence converges for no reason known to any living creature. It just simply does. Today it exists here. Right here. The name of the planet could be anything. It's location in reality could be anywhere. But what truly matters in the here and now (whatever that even means) is that we have found yet another location. Because you look a bit confused, let's give it a label. Let's say this is Denny's: Restaurant Number 458166015 or, as the locals refer to it: "Denny's 45something" Because... well, I don't know why. They just do.
The interior looks just like every other Denny's in existence. Yes, I know you are thinking to yourself "they all look a little different" but I would argue that if you have not seen the location, you have a familiar layout in mind that you refer to in your imagination. That layout determines how the place will look in your mind, thus creating the physical layout of the restaurant that I am referring to. Believe it or not, that is what brings these places into existence in the first place. That's why there are so-damned-many of them. To you, the door is where doors in a Denny's belong and so on. Make sense? Good. Now may I continue? (You really are a quizical being, aren't you?) As I was saying, this was your average Denny's, with your average waitresses waiting and your average cooks cooking and your average customers customing. (Yeah, that last one doesn't work, I know.) The place is all decked out with the same dusty Christmas decorations that the staff has been hanging since the year of the locations grand opening. A half hearted effort from a group of people who never expected their job application to result in an employment that would become an endless, timeless journey. Don't believe it? Ask any waitress how long their shifts usually are. "Oh honey, they seem to never end." will most likely be the reply. There's a reason for that, as I already explained.
Where was I? Oh right, the tables were packed with the locations regular gang with a few exceptions. Of the newcomers there is one delivery driver sitting on a stool enjoying a hot cup of coffee with a slice of schlottsberry pie that had just stopped moving. (I'd love to know how they time serving that desert so it stops moving when the coffee is refilled. Weird, right?) There is that one family who would normally eat at home but for whatever reason had to go out last minute because their plans were somehow foiled. (Maybe mom isn't as good at timing the serving of her schlottsberry pie. I know I'd screw it up.) There is a couple in a booth in the back corner exchanging longing glances over clenched hands while their food gets cold. Then there's us who, are really being rude and not ordering anything. (I'm really curious about that pie, dare me to order it?)
The sounds of the usual bustle in the place were suddenly disrupted as the door was thrown open with a crash by a man who appears to be completely panicked."I need help!" the man shouts as he drops to his knees and begins to sob into his hands.
"Whatsthamatta?" the hostess asks without altering the bored expression on her face.
The man looks up at the woman and wipes away his tears before responding: "I just ran some poor man down in the parking lot. I think I killed him!"
The woman rolls her eyes and watches as a disheveled looking man with a big grin on his face and tire tracks on his shirt opens the door. "Damn it Lou! Will you stop messin' with people in the parking lot for the love of Akeentia! You are really messing with business!" She sighed. "It's okay hon, he does that all the time," she said as she came around the hostess stand to help him to his feet, "some inconsiderate clown should buy you some pie today!" she continued, her eyes shooting daggers at Lou, who's grin had deflated a bit.
"Yeah, I'm sorry buddy. Let me buy you breakfast." Lou said as the new guy tried to smile and regain his composure. "Let's grab a seat at the counter and what ever you want is on me.
The hostess watched as the two made their way to an open spot at the counter and took a seat to wait for a waitress to take their order. Looking around the room, the new guy looked at the decorations and smiled. "Looks like it's time for new Christmas decorations." He said, attempting to initiate some small talk.
(Oh, wait one second... Um yes, I'll have a Grand Slam, the eggs scrambled, and a V8 please. I'd also like some coffee and a slice of the schlottsberry pie. It looks REALLY fresh. You having anything? No? Why did you want to come here then? Oh right... The story. Haha... Yeah, that'll be it then thank you. Where was I? Oh yeah...)
Lou looked at the dusty garland lacing the ceiling and shook his head. "New what?"
"Christmas decorations. They look as old as the building, don't they?" the man chuckled.
"Is that what they're called?" The waitress asked as she pulled out her order pad.
"You didn't know that?" The man tilted his head as he asked.
"Nope, we just hang em. They're traditional for some reason in some places so it's a company policy to just put them up during this season. I figured it must be for something like Merf Day." The waitress shrugged.
Looking like someone had slapped him in the face, the new guy looked around the room and then back at the waitress, "You mean no one here even knows what Christmas is or why it is celebrated?"
"Nope," She shrugged again. "Can I get ya started with some coffee?"
"But people need to know," The new guy said as he grabbed a spoon and his empty coffee cup. "Can I have everyone's attention please?" He shouted as he started tapping his coffee mug with his spoon.
As the room quieted and everyone looked in the direction of the noise, the man vanished and the cup and spoon fell to the floor with a crash.
"Damn it!" the waitress complained as she slapped her order pad down on the counter. "Why do people keep doing that?!?"
"I don't know," Lou replied and looked back at the waitress, "can I have my coffee to go? I have to... um... do something."
"I swear Lou, if you go out there and freak out another customer I'll contact the four owners and let them deal with you." The hostess shouted from her position. "They are really getting tired of your nonsense."
"But Merf Day is coming," The man said as he stood up from his seat, "we are supposed to get run down."
"Get the run down you idiot!" a man sitting alone in a booth at the front windows shouted. "It's about sharing and all that stuff, not damaging other people's cars. I swear there is really something wrong with you Lou."
"Where's the fun in that?" Lou laughed as he took the coffee the waitress put on the counter and happily left the building to seek out another unsuspecting driver.
So as it seems, Christmas is acknowledged in all Denny's restaurants but, only because it is a company policy. Not every Denny's everywhere and everywhen knows what it even means. So you should always wish people the happiest of holidays and leave it at that. Unless you want to make a speech like the new guy tried to do. Just don't tap on the coffee mugs there. They lose more customers that way.
(You sure you don't want to order anything? Cause I am going to sit here and eat even if you aren't going to and no, you can't taste my schlottsberry pie. It's mine.)