You know the nostalgia and comfort you feel when you’re visiting home and the scent of your mom’s homemade best hits your nostrils? My mom was a shit cook, so that’s the feeling I get when I play some Journey on the jukebox before sitting down in a Waffle House booth.
Every time I’ve sat down with the laminated menu that I look at for literally no reason because I already know I’m ordering a waffle, sausage, and smothered hash browns, I get all warm and fuzzy.
That could be because the kitchen is open in the restaurant and those cooktops are hot as shit, but still.
Waffle House is familiar, delicious, cheap, and it’s always, always there.
Most everywhere I go, no matter what time of day or night it is or how hungover I am, if there is a Waffle House nearby, I’m set.
I looked at my beloved omelet-slingers with a little more reverence once I heard on Food Network that being a former cook at Waffle House was a strength on your resume.
Have you ever been to a solid-packed Waffle House on a Sunday morning, elbow to elbow in the little waiting area with half-drunk college students, families fresh from church services, and a minimum of four old veterans who all wear hats identifying them as such?
I’ve been to Waffle House when my family was craving breakfast for dinner and I was craving not cooking it.
I’ve been to Waffle House in the middle of the night with a group of friends, giving the booze we would eventually puke up a little company in its temporary tummy home.
I’ve been to Waffle House too late in the day to say good morning but too early to say good afternoon because I laid in bed late enough to miss McDonald’s breakfast.
I’ve never been to a Waffle House at actual breakfast time but I know it’s always there should I need it one day.
In a world that is both on fire and melting at the same time, the one constant that remains is not the innate goodness of the human spirit or a higher power we all can turn to in our time of need – it’s the constant that is Waffle House. If you know, you know.
That old lady that seats the tables, takes your order, pours the coffee, butters the toast, and works the cash register, will outlive us all.
You see, Waffle House is open 24/7 and they mean it.
Did you know that their restaurants are designed to operate on just gas for power and fuel in case of an emergency?
The company has an actual, real-life team of professionals that will literally parachute in at a moment’s notice to open up a restaurant or keep it going during a disaster.
If the building itself is FUBAR, who gives a shit? Not Waffle House. They’ll serve out of a food truck. So know, if Waffle House isn’t open, things have gone very, very bad.
In a now viral Facebook post after Hurricane Ida actually shut down a few Waffle Houses, it was revealed that FEMA uses what one former Administrator called the Waffle House Index to help determine how badly an area has been impacted by an event.
Yes, they’re looking at the size of power outages and the number of full hospital beds and clean water access. But they’re also checking to make sure the local Waffle House is alive and filled with the sound of metal spatulas slapping against a cooktop.
Basically, if hash browns in your immediate area aren’t being smothered or covered or scattered or chunked or topped or capped, shit has gotten REAL and the authorities have already been alerted.
A neighborhood could be devastated by a tornado tearing up trees and roofs. But if you can still park your tush in a stool at the Waffle House counter, there remains a little hope in the air.
We may not be shitting in buckets for the next 12 days. Travel by car instead of rowboat may be possible.
Basically, The Waffle House Index has three levels.
If all stores remain open, the Waffle House Index level is green.
If they are operating on a limited menu— they have one already made up (sans waffles, sad face) for emergencies— the Waffle House Index moves to yellow.
And if the Waffle Houses close and a community’s griddle-to-table nourishment is cut off, hold onto your butts because we have reached Waffle House Index level red, folks.
Waffle Houses in Hurricane Ida’s projected path shut down several days ago in anticipation of the Category 4 storm, an indicator that heavy damage was predicted.
Hundreds closed across the country in March of 2020 as coronavirus started to spread throughout the states.
And before you doubt the fact that FEMA and Waffle House work together, a 2020 news story on ABC11.com indicated that FEMA relies on business partners to determine the severity of an issue.
And if Waffle house closes, it is SERIOUS. More evidence? The FEMA Administrator in 2012 told the New York Times
“Waffle House has a very simple operational philosophy: get open. They never close. They run 24 hours a day They have a corporate philosophy that if there is a hurricane or a storm, they try and get their stores open.
It don’t matter if they don’t have power, it don’t matter if you don’t have gas. They have procedures that if they can get a generator in there, they’ll get going. They’ll make coffee with bottled water.”
But, even your average Waffle House patron knows exactly what it means if Waffle House has shut off the lights and locked its sticky, syrupy doors.
@alostrichSmothered, covered, and evacuated. Y’all stay safe out there. (ib @trevornorris ) #thesouth? original sound – Matt Mitchell
Hurricane Ida hit the Louisiana coastline hard, killing multiple people, heavy rain causing massive flooding, and leaving millions in the state without power.
The fifth-largest hurricane to make landfall in this country has no doubt devastated the area.
But of course, the Waffle House food trucks are already out and operating.
You can see the entire post about the Waffle House Storm Center below: