A waitress bellies up to the side of our table at the Blue Line Diner on Route 2. She calls us, “dahlings.” This isn’t Hollywood effect. It seems more like an accent, so I ask my husband since he has lived in Vermont thirty-five years opposed to my fifteen. He answers, “oh, that’s a Winooski accent” rolling his eyes. She’s a local lady, indeed, who if geographically deposited thousands of miles east, could be a waitress in an Irish pub, not only due to the fun and interesting way in which she speaks, but by her manner and how she gracefully butts into a conversation, a skill unto itself. And she can’t help but call her customers pet names like “dearie,” (we all know this comes with the risk of offending,) but the fact of the matter is she doesn’t care. She’s just being herself.
Behind the Counter
Without knowing her personally, my husband determines that she 1) Drinks generic beers. And 2) is “a bit rough.” (He’s the polite sort, ya know, so he won’t elaborate further.) I moved to Vermont in the late 1990’s. The women with whom I worked at my new job told me about Allison, the secretary I had replaced. Full of bad-ass attitude and not really a team player, she’d rather cozy up to the bosses. “She’s from Winooski, ya know,” said Mary, head paralegal, imitating the accent, apparently an essential piece to being “Winooski.” Part Maine, part rural Vermont farmer, and part alley cat – that’s all you need to know.
This lady’s eyes sparkle as she takes our order, then walks away to fetch our drinks. She’s attentive to every customer, helps her coworkers, and fusses over my husband’s iced tea. And she’s got a sense of humor, made obvious nearly every time she opens her mouth. So right there, I go all soft and Jersey. When we’re finished with our meal, she leaves the check with me. My husband laughs, she catches herself and picks it up, plunks it down in front of him. I look across the table and try to read her name upside down. I see a big “E.” “Is it Eileen, like mine?” I ask my husband She hears me from behind the counter. “It’s Esther,” she hollers, an old-fashioned family name, why? Your mom name you after someone, too?”
It’s about CONNECTION, about being a REAL HUMAN BEING, and I love it. I’ll take it any time over cool, calm and collected. I love living in Vermont and I’ve met great women friends here, but sometimes I really miss my Jersey girls. A Jersey girl will do anything in the world for you – whatever you need; or if the occasion calls for it, she’ll tell you to go scratch – refreshing. At least it helps you know where you stand. And you’re free to take it from there.