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Conflict and Resolution - Waitress Style© - Written by Peggy Melanson for Life After 50 Magazine 07/09

Two key elements to an interesting story are conflict and resolution. Author Stephen King is endowed with the talent to deliver these actions in every novel he writes. Immediately engaging the reader with conflict, he gradually keeps building intensity until it's resolved before the reader dies from fright. And, then he begins another conflict.
If you carefully observe a television show or book that really captures your full attention you will be able to see the conflict and resolution happening throughout the story.
Daily life at home and work is full of large and small conflicts that have to be resolved on a minute-to-minute basis. We aren't always consciously aware of this fact.
When my children were young, I worked evenings as a waitress at a well-known chain restaurant. It was there that I regularly encountered a customer who became one of my "conflicts."
Every evening, immediately following his broadcast at the television station located almost next door to the eatery, a middle-aged broadcaster came into the restaurant. He always arrived drunk and very exuberant.
To this day, I have no idea how he managed to get so blitzed in such a short time. It probably took about two minutes to drive from the station to the restaurant and the man appeared to be cold stone sober during his announcements on air.
He always asked to be seated at my station, and that's where my conflict began.
The man was one of those disgustingly happy inebriates. I call them, "huggy-kissy drunks." He was also a "fanny pincher." Much like a mischievous child, every time I walked past his table, he pulled the ribbon of my apron so that it became untied, or, laughing out loud, pinched me.
Complaining to the night manager rewarded me with a warning that if I wanted to keep the job, these were some of the things I'd have to put up with.
Many warnings to this fellow to cut it out, "or else" got me drunken giggles, "wink-winks" and "or else... what?"
One evening, tired and a little cranky from a hard night's work, I became angry and exasperated when the man pulled my apron string causing it to fall to the floor. Tripping all over the material as I tried to keep my balance while holding a tray, I decided that it would be the last time this would happen.
Two women who were seated across from this fellow saw the incident and frowned when I bent to pick up my apron from the floor just as the fellow patted me on the backside.
I slapped his hand and stormed up to the counter to complain to the manager again. He curled his lip, said nothing as he threw up his hands and shrugged his shoulders.
Mentally planning to smack the fool in the face, if he made another move, I brought the ice cream sundaes that the two girls had ordered to their table.
As I held the tray with one hand and reached for one item, my eyes met the eyes of both women. In that instant, some woman-to-woman unspoken communication happened.
One woman frowned again and looked over at the drunken prankster as he reached for my apron string. I caught the look and spun around.
Purposely banging my hip on the edge of the fellow's table, I "accidentally" dumped both sundaes onto the man's chest and lap. He sat in stunned surprise as I said, "Oooops, ooops, I'm so very sorry." I grabbed a napkin and began to smear the hot fudge sauce and marshmallow topping onto his suit jacket and shirt.
Both girls jumped up from their seats and said, "Oh, my goodness, let us help."
For a moment, I stepped back to give the women a chance to have at him."The butterscotch was mine, so let me wipe that off" one girl said, and began to rub the topping into the man's shirt, jacket and tie.
The other girl found the cherry that was sitting on top of her sundae and deposited it into his jacket breast pocket and brazenly grabbed a bare handful of chocolate sauce and wiped it onto his face.
Not wanting to be outdone by my customers, I noticed a nicely rounded scoop of vanilla ice cream slipping off the edge of the table where it had landed. With a flourish of joy, I picked it up and happily squashed it on top of the man's perfectly coiffed head. Ms. Chocolate Sauce Lady found some walnuts that had fallen off a sundae and sprinkled them on top of that.
As the rest of the customers in the area applauded, both girls stormed up to the manager and told him that they wanted his name and warned him that following their complaints, he would be hearing from the CEO of the restaurant chain.
I went over to the manager and slapped him in the face with my apron and walked out.
Now, that's called, "conflict and resolution."
Move over Stephen King -- I'm creeping up on you.
Peggy Melanson is a writer, Storyteller, One Woman Comedy Show presenter, performer, mixed media and zentangle artist living in Holyoke. Reach her at

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Grand Prize for South Shore Grand Slam Story Slam generously donated by Nicolette Heavey and Stories In The Streets (A Maine Get Away)

Stories in the Streets in an outreach literacy program that focuses on families in at-risk areas and fosters community engagement in storytelling by: 1) Creating opportunities for public storytelling wherever families gather — a farmer’s market, laundromat, or food line; and, 2) Offering storytelling workshops that raise family engagement in literacy, cultural awareness and community understanding.  The program is currently active in Lawrence, Brockton and Randolph.


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