Randy looked over the blank holes in the schedule with growing concern. He needed to find a quality replacement for his star waitress, Maggie, who was about to go on maternity leave. Half of the success Randy's Diner enjoyed was a result of consistently good food at an affordable price. But the other half was exceptional service. Finding someone who would take the business to heart like Maggie had might prove to be a challenge. But Randy knew all about challenges.
The restaurant business seemed to fit Randy almost from childhood. But after his second restaurant failed followed closely by his marriage, he was beginning to wonder if things would ever really come together for him. The last word from his ex-wife was a postcard from Clarksdale, Idaho with the words “Congratulations, you're a father.” Randy wished he knew more, even prayed that one day the three of them would be together somehow. But then concluded from his current track record he might have more success parenting if he wasn't involved.
After several long years, Randy finally rebuilt himself from the ashes of bankruptcy. Today the thriving diner is the closest thing he has to a home. Every guest is a friend, every employee is family.
A half an hour before the open sign would glow to life, the bell on the front door jingled. Randy couldn't see who the early guest was but could hear someone talking with them. A moment later, Maggie brought in a young girl with an application in her hand.
“Got a live one for you Randy,” Maggie said.
Randy looked up to see a bright eyed, sixteen-year-old blond. “Oh! That's right! We were meeting this morning,” remembered Randy. He got up from his cluttered desk and shook hands with the potential employee. He looked on trying to remember her name. “It's....”
“It's Teresa,” she offered along with her application.
“Right again. Make yourself comfortable there,” Randy said smiling.
They both sat down and wandered through morning pleasantries. Teresa and her family had move to Langer recently. This was going to be her first “official” job, which really meant a job where the paycheck wouldn't come from a neighbor with small children.
As the casual interview progressed, Randy became more impressed with the young lady. Most teenage applicants seem to think piercings and tattoos compensate for a lack of ambition and personality. But Teresa was an energetic breath of fresh air. In some ways Randy didn't want to hire her. He wanted to see her protected from the world. But on the other hand, he wanted two or three just like her to make every customer feel the way he was feeling at the moment. This adorable dynamo would go a long way to filling the void Maggie would leave behind.
“I think I'd like to have my own restaurant some day,” Teresa shared. “But I really need to get a car first.”
Randy smiled at the thought of being young again. Youthful exuberance, dumb excitement and a much shorter list of regrets. “Maybe your dad will help you with a car,” he said wanting to just hand her the keys to anything she wanted.
For the first time during the entire interview Teresa looked down. “He's not my real dad. And I don't think he's going to be with us much longer. He and mom fight a lot.”
Randy felt an uncomfortable twinge of guilt. “I'm sorry. It's none of my business.” Then he quickly changed the subject, “But what is my business is to tell you that you've got the job.”
Teresa brightened immediately. “Really?” she asked excitedly.
“Can you start tomorrow morning eight o'clock sharp?”
“Yes! I'll be here.”
They rose together and shook hands. She thanked her new boss several times before turning to leave. With the familiar ring from the closing door she was gone.
The relieved restaurateur began scribbling Teresa's name on the schedule as Maggie poked her head around the corner. “She seemed real sweet. Does she get an apron?”
“Yes she does, Maggie Sue. The position is filled and she starts working with you tomorrow.”
“She looks familiar. Is she local?”
“Nope. Just moved here.”
Randy stopped. “I don't know.” He moved the schedule book over to see Teresa's application. Under previous addresses he read:
4710 N. Winkler
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