Christmas and eggs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 25, 2002

&uot;Good morning.&uot;

&uot;Scattered, smothered, covered… over light and over well.&uot;

These aren't exactly the words you expect to hear on Christmas morning. But for several Waffle House employees, it was something they've actually been looking forward to all year long.

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Chipper waitresses and playful cooks were abound Wednesday morning at the Waffle House on U.S. 231 near George Wallace Drive.

With a quick flick of an omelet in one hand and the shuffling of toast in another, one cook spoke up about his Wednesday workday.

&uot;In a way, it's really an enjoyable way to spend Christmas,&uot; said Billy Williams, a cook at Waffle House who worked the 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift. &uot;I get to see a lot of people and wish them a Merry Christmas… It's like spending it with a lot of extended family.&uot;

Williams and his wife Melinda, who worked the 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift Wednesday, started exchanging gifts with their family last night.

&uot;Well, we got started about 9 p.m. and went well into the night,&uot; he said. &uot;We try to start opening the stuff from Santa at about midnight.&uot;

Well what about Santa Claus delivering presents to his 3 grandchildren? The explanation is easy, Williams said.

&uot;Santa dropped off gifts a little early to our house this year,&uot; he said with a smile.

Christmas sweets served as fuel for the two boys and one girl.

&uot;In fact, they didn't have a problem staying up. Not at all,&uot; Williams said.

Cathia Cook, president of Cook, Inc., and owner of the two Troy Waffle House's said that Christmas day is their busiest day of the year.

&uot;Well no one else is open,&uot; she said, &uot;so we get a lot of travelers coming through.

&uot;We're always open. And we stay open. Our doors are always wide open.&uot;

Cathia said her two youngest children started opening presents as soon as she got home Christmas Eve from work.

She got a few hours sleep, and beat Santa Claus back to the Waffle House Christmas morning.

&uot;It's a normal routine for me, though,&uot; she said. &uot;I don't mind it.&uot;

In fact, she said the best thing about working Christmas day was that the Waffle House has, of sorts, a Christmas party - a 24-hour party.

&uot;Employees bring in food all day and we just have a good time,&uot; she said. &uot;Even some of our customers bring us food.&uot;

Cook said she has been working on Christmas day since 1994, when she put on her first Waffle House hat.

&uot;I think the last time I didn't work on Christmas day was in college,&uot; she said.

While she admits that her hectic work schedule didn't allow her to do much gift wrapping, her children didn't seem to mind.

&uot;For a two and a three year old, it doesn't matter how they're wrapped,&uot; she said, chuckling over her glass of water.

Even though the hours are odd, Williams and Cook agree that it doesn't take away from the spirit of Christmas.

&uot;Their eyes still light up,&uot; Cook said. &uot;They still are in awe of the tree and the toys… And when they wake up Christmas morning, their grandma has more toys.&uot;

Cook said that she would spend the afternoon with her &uot;extended work family,&uot; the manager of the Waffle House near Hwy. 87, and then, not suprisingly, head back to work.

&uot;Hey, if my people work, then I work,&uot; she said.

The Christmas spirit also means more to Cook and her employees.

Just over a year ago, the first Waffle House in Troy opened.

&uot;This season is sort of like a culmination of the whole year.

&uot;It's a big day and we'll still be here next year,&uot; Cook said.

Waffle House, whose first stored opened Labor Day in 1955 in Avondale Estates, an Atlanta suburb, operates over 1,300 stores nationwide.

Waffle House is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including

of course, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.

So why the locks on the doors?

Said one employee: &uot;I don't know; we never close the doors.&uot;