There’s a waitress at the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas, Arizona, whose name is Fatima. She’s there on Sunday morning when I need her most. More than the coffee, and more than the Sunday comics and word puzzles, she’s there.
I sit at the bar in the café. Usually, the other stools are empty. It’s not the most comfy setup, especially if you have long legs. Fortunately, I don’t. On Sunday mornings, local families come in for morning brunch. Visitors to town and hotel guests walk in and out.
The café is the most modern and least extravagant section of the historic Gadsden, once billed as the last of the grand hotels. The outside of the building, erected in 1907 and then rebuilt after a fire in 1928, is unassuming. What looks like a big, plain square building surprises visitors with what’s inside. Stained glass windows, marble columns, and a grand staircase. Legends of ghosts in room 333 and pictures of celebrities who’ve visited help make the place feel magical.
And then there’s Fatima. She’s not like the rest of the Gadsden. Its grandness and fanciness, its overwhelming feeling of awe and history. She’s just Fatima, and she’s there every Sunday morning.
I like it when there is something, someone, there for you when you expect them, even if they don’t know that you need them. I order a latte every Sunday with one pump of sugar-free syrup. I usually drink my coffee black, but Sundays I go a little extra. A weekend reward. I don’t have anything to eat. Just a cup of coffee and the morning paper.
At Café 333 (named after the hotel’s infamously haunted room), there are regular people doing regular things. Some are eating breakfast. Some are walking through as they make their way through the lobby, taking in the grandeur of the place. There are big windows to see what’s happening on the town’s main street. It’s Sunday morning, so there isn’t much of anything to see happening.
That’s where Fatima comes in. She fills the place. She’s the kind of waitress that knows exactly what you want and how you want it. When I skip a Sunday, she points it out. She talks to me about the weather and about her week. She asks me about me. About my likes and dislikes.