Okay, Gertie isn't a Bluefield College graduate. But she should at least be an honorary alumna. She has been a fixture for Bluefield College students for many years. She's the beloved night shift waitress at the Omelet Stop in Princeton.
Back in the day, the restaurant was known as the Omelet Shoppe. During those college years, there weren't a lot of places to go in the town of Bluefield if you were hungry in the middle of the night. The short drive to Princeton provided us with the all-night diner. It was the perfect place to load up on grease and coffee and cigarette smoke at 3am. Come to think of it, it was the only place to load up on all those things.
Gertie was our favorite waitress. She saved my life once. I'll never forget that. She made such an impact on the kids that some of us created an intramural flag football team and named it in her honor. I say "we," but I really mean my friends. I wasn't allowed to play. I shouldn't have to remind anyone of this, but I'm a dropper.
A few years ago, I remember hearing that Gertie had passed away. I don't remember exactly where I heard this information or from whom. But I'm not the only one who remembers hearing that news. Mark and Brandon can back me up on that. There's even a Facebook group titled "Remembering Gertie."
As I was pulling out of the elementary school parking lot yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Brandon. He asked what I was doing last night. "Nothing, really. Probably just catch up on some reading."
"Wanna meet me and Mark at the Omelet Stop at 10?"
I sighed. Loudly. "You know it's a school night, right?"
When the offer to pay for my meal was put on the table, I had to agree to go out. How could I pass that up? A late night trip for some greasy food with two of my best friends in the world? Life's too short not to. Screw the Murtaugh List.
We sat and ordered our food. While we waited, we spent time catching up. Then a strange thing happened. A woman who looked eerily familiar walked into the restaurant. Brandon said, "That lady looks a lot like Gertie."
Mark and I both turned to look. Sure enough, the resemblance was uncanny. We were all stunned. As I said before, we'd all heard that she had died. How could she be sitting at the Omelet Stop before our eyes? I offered to walk by and attempt to accidentally bump into her, just to see if she had corporeal form. Maybe she was a ghost.
We weren't the only ones who could see her. She was having a conversation with a guy at the counter. For a while she disappeared. For a while, we thought we'd imagined that we had seen her. But we couldn't have. Brandon got a picture of her with his phone. She was real.
Obviously, rumors of her death have been greatly exaggerated.