The Waffle House Ethics Heroes

I increasingly find myself searching, usually in vain, for stories to reassure myself and Ethics Alarms readers that out society, in the words of the pious churchgoers of Rock Ridge, isn’t “turning into shit.” Here is story out of Alabama involving a Waffle House. I’ve never eaten at one, though there has been a Waffle Shop down Russell Road in Alexandria, VA, less than five minutes from my home by car, the entire 39 years I’ve lived here. The fact that its awning has misspelled “Waffle” with only one “f” for all that time is the reason: I figure that it you can’t spell your own specialty, I can’t trust you to make it right, either.

But I digress…

At a  Birmingham, Alabama Waffle House  on the morning of November second, an estimated 25 customers found that the restaurant had only a single employee named  Ben on duty to serve the whole mob. Apparently there had been a scheduling snafu, leaving Ben with the responsibility of serving everybody. Said one witness to the scene, . “He was just staring at the room full of people. I can’t imagine what he was thinking.”

Then one customer who had been sitting at the bar, asked Ben what was going on and received the answer. He stood up, asked for an apron, and  started washing dishes. A few minutes later a female customer left her table and began bussing those of other partons, taking and serving orders, and making coffee. Then a third customer joined the volunteer staff.

Ben was able to make it through the crisis without a riot , or a group of angry diners texting and tweeting their outrage to Yelp and the world. The emergency staff were all in good spirits, it was reported, singing and humming as did their jobs. “There was a real sense of community,” one onlooker said.

Pat Warner, director of PR and external affairs at Waffle House, praised the ethical patrons, and even suggested that the dishwasher apply for a job. He also added, “We appreciate the customers’ effort, however we prefer to have our associates behind the counter. Our concept works best when we serve the customer, not the other way around.”

I was dreading a nasty kicker to this story, like the union striking Waffle House or Ben being fired for allowing unauthorized personnel behind the counter. So far, there’s no hint of anything like that. This was the Golden Rule in full bloom.

This is the way America is supposed to be.

In the only sour note to the proceedings, the dish washer was accosted   as he finally left the establishment and pushed  because he was wearing a MAGA cap.

Just kidding.

I hope.

13 thoughts on “The Waffle House Ethics Heroes

  1. You’re not missing anything, Waffle House is barely palatable even at 3 AM when you’ve had a few too many, aren’t sure if you’re in Louisana or Mississippi, and you only want that chocolate chip waffle to soak up the booze.

    *cough* Or so I’ve heard. Yeah, heard, that’s the ticket. *shifty eyes*

  2. A different no-alcohol perspective ….

    Jack – 39 years is a very long time to deprive yourself, your community of neighbors, and your family and friends from enjoying great experiences over a misspelled (?) name. There’s a reason why the establishment is still there serving breakfast and coffee after 39 years. Perhaps there is a great ethics story or human interest story behind the WAFEL HOUSE name. Go splurge. Take your wife to breakfast. Then report back to your fans. Happy Sunday. Happy Veterans Day Weekend. Blessings!!

    …of course, they must serve real maple syrup!!

  3. Damn those southerners for continually confounding the endless stereotyping of them as ignorant, deplorable, miscreants.

    As I recently told both my incredibly biased father and son in-law, I’ll take any of them over the people you hold in high esteem any day..

  4. Is that the actual place by you?

    That does not look like a Waffle House. First, it says “Shop” and it does not have the yellow and black color scheme.

    Anyway, I have been to the Waffle House in Lebanon TN. Long story, but they shut down the freeway there because of a blizzard. It was the only thing around. Probably their best day ever. After driving all night, I was glad to have something to eat.

    May have eaten at other ones on occasion, but that’s the one I remember.

    -Jut

    • 1. It is indeed.
      2. As I think I implied, I have assumed that it has no rel tionship to the Waffle House, but I have been told that it is also a chain. People, including my son, RAVE about the place, however.

        • There have been a few articles about that: apparently it really is a misspelling, since the word is spelled on menus, etc, correctly. And as you know, you can’t trademark or copyright a word like “waffle”: it’s a generic description. That’s why IGOP was originally “House of Pancakes”—there were already “Pancake Houses.”

  5. The chain must be doing something right. It appears WH’s have a robust and loyal following.

    I have tried them and found the food Ok but the service staff seemed to know just about everyone by name. The service often reminded me of what we used to see in westerns where the widow lady that ran the rooming house made sure every cup was filled, the coffee always hot and nobody leaves the table hungry. I cannot say this occurs everywhere but it is reflective of my experiences at a few of these retaurants.

  6. That’s they we do it in Alabama. When our power went out on Christmas one year we ended up at a local Waffle House. The staff and other customers were pleasant and friendly. It’s not haute cuisine, but then again Waffle House has no pretensions. It’s had the same basic design for decades. It’s not going vegan anytime soon.

  7. Jack, you should really stop at an official Waffle House (or as Jim Gaffigan says, “if you drop the W it’s just “Awful House”…) and give it a try. The hash browns are amazing. Anyway, I can totally see this happening at Waffle House, because of the way the places are set up. The kitchen is right there in full view, the booths are pretty low, and there are lots of windows, enabling everyone to see everything and everyone else. It’s like a big, open kitchen at your house, if your house had enough booths to seat 40 or 50 people. The wait staff has been very friendly at every one we’ve gone to. I will always be a WH fan because they were literally the only place open on the one occasion that my wife and I decided to travel from Michigan to Tennessee on Christmas Day! We’ve never made that mistake again, but were very happy to eat a good meal with good people at a Waffle House somewhere in southern Indiana that day.

  8. The Waffle Houses were about the first places serving food in the Panama City area after Hurricane Michael. They also gave away a lot of food. Smothered, covered, and chunked hashbrowns with a pecan waffle and plenty of coffee will get you ready for a long day of clearing debris or in my earlier life a long day of driving the family from one Air Force base to another. Turning up the radio real loud would usually drown out the kids complaining about not stopping at McDonald’s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.