Driving home to Minnesota from Key West, Florida, Kay and I stop for lunch near Mobile, Alabama. Trip Advisor ranks Felix’s Fish Camp the #8 most highly recommended of 581 restaurants in Mobile, right on the waterfront. An old fish shack; our kinda place!
Our waiter has Southern DNA written all over him. His style is the epitome of Southern hospitality: unhurried, gracious, warm, personable, respectful, friendly. “Yes, Ma’am. No, Sir.”
In his late-2os, Brian is very tall. He kneels down beside the table to get acquainted. He introduces us to Felix’s, talks about the menu, asks about our tastes, and zeroes in on the dishes we might like most.
The man in the next booth overhears the conversation. He’s smiling. Getting to his feet with the help of his cane, he comes by to say hello. Turns out he’s from Duluth, Minnesota, a traditional stronghold of the Democrat Farm Labor Party. He and his wife closed their chiropractor office in Duluth three years ago to retire near his son in Mobile. He asks what brings us here and what we did for a living. He smiles. “You’re a pastor. You like people. What church?” “Presbyterian,” I say. “I’m a Lutheran,” he says. “What’s your favorite Scripture? Mine is Psalm 91. I learned it as a child and can still recite it from memory.”
Brian delivers the fish, topped with fried oyster, shrimp with cheese grits, and side dishes of almond green beans, cheese grits, and turnip greens to die for.
At just the right moment, as skilled waiters do, Brian returns to ask whether we’d like desert, maybe some lemon pie or Key Lime Pie. The lemon is more unique to Felix’s but he thinks perhaps we might prefer the Key Lime.
After the Key Lime pie, we thank Brian for his extraordinary hospitality and service, promise to write a review on TripAdvisor, pay the bill, and say goodbye.
The relocated Minnesota couple leave at the same time. As the four of us walk way out together, our new friend wishes us a safe trip home and then says “Before you go, I have a question for you. Which Republican do you like for 2016?”
His wife grimaces. We just smile. Maybe he’s forgotten that he’s from Duluth, or maybe he’s being playful one last time…or maybe he’s confusing Christian and Republican. We’ll never know. Life is funny like that.
– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 26, 2015