#SOL18: March 13

Serial Story  

(Scene 1, Scenes 2 and 3, and then Scene 3 ended with:

“She walks over to the blue Pontiac Bonneville and trades the bag for a $5.00 bill, a muttered “Keep the change” and follows customers into the diner.”

Scene 4

At the cash register, she makes change and throws a single dime and three pennies into the tip jar. “Thanks so much for the no luck,” she mutters under her breath.

Maria fills two water glasses and  hands them across the counter for the new customers at the counter, while simultaneously pulling out the menus and setting silverware wrapped in napkins for two of the three places.  “Do you need that sippy cup filled up?” she asks.

One head nods no and while the other one doesn’t look up from the menu. Maria grabs a place mat and two crayons from under the counter and puts it in the middle and says, “I’ll be back in one minute.”

She fills four more water glasses, puts them on a tray and walks across to the table under the window.  Everyone’s favorite table.  Same routine:  water, menus, silverware, and a promise to be back.

“What’ll you have today?” she asks as she returns to the counter.  They choose sandwiches in a basket, a kid’s meal of chicken nuggets and fries, and one piece of lemon meringue pie.

Maria mentally calculates the total. . . about $14.00. “Maybe” she thinks hopefully. She hands the order through the window to the cook and hears two patties hit the grill and the sizzle of the fryer as the basket of fries drop into the boiling oil.

“What will you have this afternoon?” and she scribbles soup, salads, sandwiches, and shakes in diner shorthand before turning the order into the kitchen.

The smile on Maria’s face is real.  Anticipation. It’s the middle of the afternoon. One hour into her shift and over $30.00 of orders.  Her fingers quickly makes a cross from her head to her chest as she prays for decent tips.  Rent is due tomorrow.  Maybe. . . just maybe . . . this will be her lucky day.  The $3.50 an hour wages won’t come close . . . but ever hopeful . . .

Refills water.  Makes sure ketchup and barbecue sauce are full.  Double checks about dressing on the side for the salad.  That earns a quiet “thank you” from the customer.  Extra napkins at the ready. Finally fills the sippy cup. Quietly. Quickly.  Always on the move. Those feet in the flip flops glide across the floor.

“Order up,” sings out the cook and Maria delivers the first round of food.  The singing gets louder as Maria gets the salad from the cooler just as she hears, “Order up.”

Two trips later, everyone is eating.  Visual check. All the food is served.  “What else?”

“The best thing about afternoon customers,” thinks Maria, “is that the afternoon goes fast.  Better to be busy than to sit here and try to just look busy. Like Grandma says, ‘idle hands are the devil’s workshop’.” 

The pace of eating slows.  Removing empty dishes. “Anything else? Pie? Cake?” Every smidgeon of lemon meringue pie looked like it had been licked off. No dessert for the table.  Checks presented.  Paid.

Maria waits until the customers leave to cash out the bills.

Into the tip jar . . .

a dollar bill,

a dollar bill,

a dollar bill,

a dollar bill,

and two quarters.

Change from the second bill:

a five dollar bill,

a dollar bill,

a quarter,

and two dimes.

The bell over the door rings, rings, and rings.  New chattering customers . . .

What do you now know that you didn’t before this scene? 

How much do you remember from one week to the next? 

When do you need to verify your text evidence? 

How did you manage to figure this out with annotating? ( I believe that annotation has become the new “bore the kids stiff and make them hate reading” routine.)

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

New learnings/ wonderings:

Some “cheap skates” who think they are “generous”

Name of the main character

How many customers at the counter?

How many people are in the diner?

What did you have to infer?

What is the problem?

What’s your prediction for the evening?

What questions do you have?


13 responses

  1. Your first installment made me think Maria was a teenager, and I didn’t imagine she was a waitress. Now I’m wondering if she’ll have enough money at the end of the shift and what she’ll do if there aren’t enough tips. You’re doing a great job of putting us right there in the diner, Fran!

    1. Catherine,
      I think my first draft had her as a customer. But by day 2 that had changed! But we haven’t said yet how old she is!

  2. I’m with you on the “death by annotating”; thinking as I’m writing this, I’m wondering if that’s why inference has become such a big problem. When we focus too much on reading into minute details instead of taking in the scene as a whole and considering all the information, I wonder if that gets in the way of figuring out the backstory….hmmmm.

    1. It’s now “evidence” and “annotation” so many students don’t think they are supposed to infer. So hard to keep the balance and the “whole” when we keep picking it apart!

  3. Clare Landrigan | Reply

    I wanted more about the character and you gave me more – thank you. I now have motivation, some traits and a bit more information about what is going on in her life and this setting. I did go back and reread – I had trouble finding scene 3 – but remembered the story enough to get by – did not annotate a thing!

    1. I know.
      I think that’s a slice . . .
      Death by annotation!

  4. Maria is now fleshed out. We know more about her and her problem – money is tight. I am getting a glimpse of Maria’s positive attitude. The song “She Works Hard For the Money” by Donna Summer keeps playing in my head.

    1. OH, I like that song! I will hold onto that !! Truly crowd sourcing the ideas! We’ve only heard that the cook is sometimes singing so far . . .

  5. The paragraph that includes this phrase, “she prays for decent tips,” reminds me so much of how we need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. My kids took serving jobs at different times during their college years. I never knew serving was so exhausting, and that tips really are important to the servers.

    I love the use of details. I feel I was right there with you. Thanks.

    1. You are welcome. It’s a work in progress. It’s a job that is still so far below the minimum wage in so many places!

  6. […] (Continued from Scene 1, Scene 2 & 3, and Scene 4) […]

  7. […] I think a lot about as an educator.  The day after I read these poems, I read this post by Fran McVeigh.  She posed this question in her […]

  8. […] from Scene 1, Scene 2 & 3, Scene 4, and  Scene […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Tim's Teaching Thoughts

Ideas and Reflections on Teaching

Hands Down, Speak Out

Listening and Talking Across Literacy and Math

Teachers | Books | Readers

Thirty-One Educators Connecting Students and Books

Educator *Speaker *Author*coach

We have the perfect words. Write when you need them. www.carlambrown.com

Curriculum Coffee

A Written Shot of Espresso

Mrs. Palmer Ponders

Noticing and celebrating life's moments of any size.


Seeking Ways to Grow Proficient, Motivated, Lifelong Readers & Writers

Doing The Work That Matters

a journey of growing readers & writers

Present Perfect

adventures in multiple tenses

The Blue Heron (Then Sings My Soul)

The oft bemused (or quite simply amused) musings of Krista Marx -- a self-professed HOPE pursuing Pollyanna

Middle English

Life as an English teacher leader

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together


Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas, Strategies and Tools

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson


All Things Literacy! Brianna Parlitsis


A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

elsie tries writing

"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.

%d bloggers like this: