Daisy was surprised to find the second floor almost equally as crowded as
the train station below, albeit much more orderly and polite. After making
her delivery to a rather aloof secretary at the lawyer’s office, she decided to
make her way down to the restaurant despite the fact she knew that it
would be wildly busy.
And she was right. Nearly every table in the restaurant and every stool at the
counter was taken but, she reasoned, by the time she got her order a table
(or stool) might become available. After all, a lot of these people have trains
to catch. Or she could always just get her lunch to go and sit out by the river
and enjoy the unexpected warmth of the Christmas season.
The restaurant in Union Station included a large kitchen with an adjoining
dining room that consisted of several rows of large wooden tables and
benches with seating for around 75 people. There was also a counter with
stools where the dining room connected with the kitchen with seating for
another 30 or so people. Minimally adorned the room was large and
spacious, heaving with the aromas of broiling beef, frying chicken, searing
bacon, scrambling eggs, toasting bread and boiling potatoes amidst the
clamor and din of a hungry noontime crowd.
Daisy had been coming here quite often for lunch and had gotten to know
the waitresses, who (at first) were surprised to see a young woman having
lunch by herself. After talking with her and hearing her story, the waitresses
quickly befriended Daisy oftentimes giving her extra portions for free or little
care packages of afternoon snacks that she would take back with her and
share among the drivers in the Post Office stable (who also quickly
befriended Daisy as well).
By the time Daisy arrived a little after noon the restaurant was at capacity
and she saw before her a mass of lowered heads over lunch plates, busily
working away. The counter was just as busy with a few stragglers eating their
meals standing up. Daisy found a gap at the counter and was recognized
by one of the waitresses who quickly came over to her.
“Hi Louise! This place is really busy,”
“How are you holding up?”
“I’m doing okay,”
“We knew it would be like this. Same at the Post Office?”
“Yes, busier than I’ve ever been. I didn’t realize just how much mail comes
through this time of year,”
“So, what can I getya?”
“Oh Louise, whatever is fastest,”
said Daisy, looking over her shoulder at grunting masses of manly men eating away.
“I don’t think I can stand to be in here one more minute.”
“I know what you mean,”
“There’s some fried chicken that’s ready. And some potato salad.”
“That would be perfect, Louise!”
said Daisy. She felt herself being squeezed even tighter into the
counter as new diners came in and sat down. Just a few moments later,
Louise returned to the counter holding a bulging paper bag in front of her.
“Here you go, Daisy,”
“And Tom threw in a little dessert for you too. On the house.”
“Gosh, you all are so nice to me,”
said Daisy as pulled some coins from her pocket to pay Louise.
“Thanks so much. And good luck!”
“Yeah, I’ll need it to get through the next couple of weeks
Daisy gave her a wave goodbye and began making her way out of the
restaurant. She noticed that some of the diners were leaving and seats were
becoming available at several tables including one right by the back door
(which led out onto Washington Street) where from amongst the sea of
faces one face in particular stood out to her. It was Dan’s. And he was
waving at her, gesturing to an open seat beside him on the end of the
Daisy smiled and raised the bulging paper bag in greeting as she walked
“Would you like to join me? There’s plenty of room,”
said Dan as she passed.
“I can make more room if you like.”
She turned to him, now with her back to the back door.
“Yes, I’m sure you can but I’d rather be out in the fresh air,”
she said, backkicking the door open with one heal while turning on the other to exit.