Lori Clinch

Lori Clinch is from North Platte. She is the mother of four sons. Her email address is loriclinch2010@gmail.com.

While out of town last weekend, my family and I experienced a little bit of an awkward encounter.

Our eldest and wise-cracking son, Vernon, and his lovely wife, Stephanie, informed us that there was a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was grand, and I do quote, “a real go to!”

“The Nebraskan Cafe ain’t the prettiest to look at,” Vernon told us. “But the prices are right and the food is to die for.”

What is there not to love?

I was a bit skeptical as we pulled up to the establishment. The windows were smeary and the sign was short an “O,” and only said, “PEN.”

“Does that stand for pig ‘Pen’?” I asked in my usually sarcastic tone.

“You’ll see,” Vernon confidently replied.

The parking lot was full and the line of patrons waiting to enter was out the door, making it look promising. My Pat was giddy, for he loves nothing more than a good, home cooked meal.

Since our three younger sons were with us as well as one of their friends, we were a group of eight. This would not have posed a problem at most restaurants, but this one did something different than most busy restaurants — they had no hostess!

All of us dine at diners and eat at food serving establishments and most of us don’t take the time to appreciate what a hostess can do. She can hold tables, push chairs together and get you seated without having to throw down with other customers.

Simply put, a hostess is what separates us from the animals. I know this because on that fine Sunday morning, following a lovely church service, I stood there in that long line of the waiting, and watched for two tables to empty that were close together, so that I could seat my family as a group!

It took a minute, I’ll give you that. A table of four opened up and I could tell that the next table was about to leave. I sat my purse on the first table and in my mind, thereby called dibs.

I didn’t want to stare down the second table, but I stood close enough with my large group, that people had to know we were waiting for it.

The group of four left and I put my coat on the chair of the second table, and in my mind, called out dibs on that area. I turned to look at the fam and began to explain that we should collectively join the tables together, and when I turned, there suddenly was an old man and two children sitting at the second table that I had called dibs on.

At this point in time, my inner child was livid. We had waited 45-minutes for this table, we had swooped in, and I was quite certain that my coat and purse made “dibs” obvious!

But I had just left church. And although there will be many a transgression brought up before me as I stand before God, I didn’t want my moment at this restaurant to be one of them.

“I’m sorry, sir,” I said discreetly, “this table is ours.”

“I don’t see your name on it, Lady!” he shouted out for all of our fellow patrons to hear.

“Well, you see, they don’t have name cards for tables here at the Nebraskan Cafe, sir, so I simply placed my coat on this chair.”

“You know what, Lady!” he shouted as he stood up. “You can just have this table!”

And with that, he grabbed the children and stomped out the door.

Apparently the whole incident embarrassed my family of men and their friend, but Stephanie understood.

“Way to stand your ground,” she said as she patted me on the back. “And you should know that a good hostess is sometimes what separates us from the animals.”

“True dat, Steph, true dat.”

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