Rating: PG - Gen - Outside POV
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Outside POV - A tired waitress in a busy diner.
As soon as she saw them walk through the door she sighed.
The look of some people just made you do that. You learned when and how to sort through what would make the next thirty minutes of your job potentially unpleasant or worth the hassle.
It wasn't rocket science.
Although, every now and then when a new waitress came through that had never even set a table, she was always faintly surprised how much of a read she really had on the average diner patron.
You knew when not to bother cruising by during a rush with more coffee if you already knew the two senior citizens were going to calculate your tip down to the nearest penny. You knew to keep the bikers in their rounds of beer because they always left a gracious amount that usually equated the efficiency in which they got plowed. She paid extra special attention to the weary blurry eyed truckers and always paused to chat no matter how busy she was when she spotted her regulars.
Throughout the years they found comfort in showing her worn photos of their kids and wives. Some a year by year stop motion movie of how they grew up into gangly teens and young adults that their hard working fathers were now sending off to college. The military. A steady job at the local plant. Soon to be married. Or new parents themselves.
She saw all shapes and forms of hungry life walk through the doors that were open 24 hours a day. And in ten years on aching feet and a stiff back she knew in about five seconds just about exactly what she was dealing with.
It wasn't often that she had to take a second look and reconsider.
The first thing she noted was that the two were no strangers to an eating establishment such as this. They didn't wait awkwardly by the doors like the minivan family vacationers who sometimes accidentally wandered too far from the main freeway. No, these two boys went right ahead, found a booth and sat right down.
The second thing she noticed was that they definitely weren't any of those university joy riding road trippers that came in occasionally. Those 20 somethings that hadn't quite figured out they weren't teenaged any more and always carefully dressed to appear as if they hadn't tried at all. That shabby chic or whatever the hell the kids were calling it these days. The type that always thought it was funny to stuff the entirety of a tables napkin dispenser into their half full soda glasses before taking their leave.
No, not these two.
She slid the plastic menus onto their table and poured steaming black coffee into the mugs they had already flipped up. They didn't ask if it was decaf and they didn't ask for any creamer that was missing from their small metal rack of condiments. She had already had a feeling they wouldn't.
One of them, a young man that she could see did a lot of smiling, did just that and greeted her with her own name.
She had been wearing a stitched patch on her diner dress uniform for longer than she cared to think and customers noticed it often enough to address her by her given name every now and then. But for some reason, the way he did it was as effortless as if he'd known her all his life and was just stopping by as he did just about every day.
There was a wink right after it that almost made her blush.
Walking back around the counter to pick up the plates for her other tables she tried to shake off her absurd reaction. She was a mother of three grown children and saddled with a pair of hips that had seen much better days in her youth. Not that she didn't get her share of advances from the clientele, but they were usually a few decades older and the brand of men that liked what they called a "real woman" on the back of their Harley Davidson.
She studied them as she walked by again with her tray.
Too her surprise, the other one sitting across the booth had one of those small computers open. She felt her eye brows raise. One of those fancy little ones that looked like it was not even substantial enough to be used as a door stop. A little curious she tried to see what was on its flat fancy screen as she returned to them with her order pad out. The old diner's register wasn't even electronic and not many of her patrons were the computer savvy kind.
Waiting for them to play their part, she could see that they had been on the road for a while. That was easy enough to tell. There was a weariness that someone inherently had to them from being behind a wheel for too long. A set to their eyes from staring too hard out at nothing but highway. Rubbing her hand under her nose, she also noted that it seemed like they hadn't been near a wash machine in a while either.
It was fairly difficult to offend her after the years of the traveling men she'd served. Not to mention having sons of her own and a husband that spent weeks at a time out on an oil rig. Some ring around the collar, three days of beard and a grease stained jacket were nothing she hadn't seen before. But there was something else lingering under it.
Briefly she wondered if they maybe they might be the dine and dash variety. If she had a dime for all the broke vagrants that sat down to eat and vanished without paying the bill, she'd have a whole lot of dimes.
But the cut of their clothes along side with that expensive looking computer didn't make any sense. And there was that something else she'd noticed as soon as she had gotten close enough to get a whiff of them.
The scent she was picking up under it all started to nag at her memory of being a young girl. When her Daddy would come back home after a week up in the forest where he liked to go looking for deer, he had smelled like these two boys did. Crushed up earth, old sweat, sweet damp rot of the deep woods and some vague lingering acrid scent of spent gun powder. It was always seeped down into his thick winter corduroy jacket shoulder, pressed against her face when he had picked her up to celebrate his homecoming.
"You boys been huntin'?"
They both suddenly looked up at her with something she thought looked a lot like puzzled alarm.
Unsure of how to respond to their reaction, she tried again.
"It's-It's just that it's off season and all."
The one that liked to smile was smiling again.
Experience had also taught her that you didn't get those well worn small fine lines around your eyes and mouth if you didn't mean it. It was one of those real smiles that made you give one right back before you could help yourself.
"You got any specials?" He asked.
Slipping automatically back into her business, she listed the requested information even though it was plainly chalked behind her on the small blackboard.
The taller one made faces when she mentioned the fish but seemed happy when he discovered they were still serving breakfast. He even cracked a genuine grin of his own when she said they might have one more small single serving box of fruit loops left. The one that knew her name ended up with something he'd spotted in the dessert display and had no dinner at all.
So much for making enough to pay off any the of stacks of bills she had waiting for her at home tonight.
After she clipped the order on the cook's wheel, she rushed off to her next table that had been mostly patiently waiting. Working her wrists prickling with arthritis and extra sore from all the heavy trays of 2 for 1 spaghetti that everyone was ordering that night, she suddenly thought about the saying about books and their covers. It was a saying that she had never put much stock in.
There were only so many times you could be proved right before you became just a little bit cynical.
The flurry of the dinner crowd peaked and finally started to wane. Using the lull to do her duty in the kitchen, she glanced out often through the pick up window for anyone needing her attention. She was surprised when she had finally emerged from fixing the clogged dishwasher to find that all but one of her tables had finally emptied.
The two boys were gathering themselves up and were headed out the door. There was a small wave over a shoulder in her direction as the door swished shut behind them. She had left their bill on their table which she saw had a small stack of cash on it. Another sign of a seasoned traveler. If you didn't want any change you just left what you owed and didn't bother with a cashier.
Two cups of coffee, some eggs, one bowl of cereal and three pieces of completely demolished pie.
Maybe it was nice not to know everything about someone in the first five seconds of seeing them.
Sometimes it was just nice to be surprised.