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All Jim wanted was a cup of coffee when he stopped down at the Mule Barn the other day. Sometimes when he comes the three miles down off the interstate with his big rig he has a full meal, but this afternoon it was just for a quick cup and a friendly smile.

He got the friendly smile from Mavis, but she forgot the coffee until the second time she asked him what he wanted. It was embarrassing for her, but Jim just smiled. He left her a five-dollar tip for the 85-cent coffee, too. More and more of the old-time truckers do that these days. The first thing they do is ask which tables Mavis is waiting on, and they are sure to sit there and leave a big tip.

Mavis has raised her three kids alone now for several years, and things haven't always been easy for her, but she always has something nice to say to everyone. She's not as quick as she was years ago. Sometimes a guy has to sit there and jaw with his pals for a while before he gets his order, but that's okay. She sometimes forgets to hold the onions on a burger, too, but no one complains. It's not hard to take the onions off a burger and set them to one side if you don't want them. Sometimes she forgets when someone wants decaf instead of regular, too. I've seen one of the other girls quietly wait until Mavis was in the kitchen and then go take care of it.

It's no crime to be a little forgetful when you have more important things on your mind. Mavis wears a scarf on her head these days, but that's just temporary, too. Her hair will grow back after she's finished with the treatments.

Brought to you by Slim's books at www.slimrandles.com, where most of the favorable book reviews weren't written by close relatives of the author.


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