Alan Clark

Recently, I ambled into one of my favorite eating places, took a seat at the counter and ordered breakfast.

I have frequented this place and others like it in the franchise all my life, but this time, there was something a little different.

The staff behind the counter began talking about a shooting nearby at another one of the franchises of the same restaurant where a police officer had been shot. You may recognize the familiar name of the franchise — Waffle House.

I’ll bet the creators of the original Waffle Houses did not have this stigma in mind when they first opened their doors.

The first Waffle House opened on Labor Day weekend in 1955 at 2719 East College Avenue in Avondale Estates, Georgia. That restaurant was conceived and founded by Joe Rogers Sr. (1919–2017) and Tom Forkner (1918–2017).

Since then, there are now 2,100 locations in 25 states, all serving “Good food fast.”

But what has been in the news lately is the number of shootings and violence associated with the restaurant chain.

You probably remember the now-famous heroics of an average citizen in Nashville during the April 22, 2018, shooting of four people at a Waffle House in Antioch. The incident described by staff during my recent visit brought to mind the Antioch shooting more than a year ago.

There was also a Waffle House shooting one year later in Florida.

I’d never associated a Waffle House with violence, really, until my experience just a few days ago. Now, I will tend to look around a little before sitting down at the counter.

I’ve been trained in situational awareness by the military, private protection agencies, and university campus police forces, but I never had to apply my training at a Waffle House – until now.

My bigger question is, “Is there no place safe?” Schools across the country, from elementary to college, have been victims of random acts of unkindness by shooters almost every year for the last several.

Who would have thought that such evil could be directed at the most innocent among us?

There’s also the stories of bitter employees “going postal” following tragedies that involve a worker’s inhumanity to fellow employees.

Or, how about the killing of six military personnel at various recruiting sites in Chattanooga in July of 2016, which made national headlines?

Thank goodness for law enforcement and public safety personnel who must wade into the aftermaths of these atrocities as a part of their job.

Without them, violence might run rampant throughout our society more frequently than it does with them.

We have a democracy in America in which every citizen is afforded the freedom to exercise their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as provided by the amendments to the Constitution.

A visit to other countries of the world where this is not so true is an eye-opener and a realization that we are lucky and good.

All people, children and adults, must be made to feel safe in their environments, because that’s the way it oughtta be.

Alan Clark’s columns may be heard in his podcasts on iTunes, and on his web site at alclarkvoice.com. ”You Oughtta Know: Volume One, 2017-2018” is a collection of his columns published by Lakeway Publishers, Inc.