Fights at Waffle House are nothing new. Every week it seems, there is another video of some unruly drunk getting his comeuppance at the hands of a grizzled grillmaster, or customers duking it out over minor slights. The skirmishes usually end in arrests, injuries, or hurt pride, but a recent all out brawl at a Southaven, MS restaurant had a more uplifting finale.
What began as a verbal altercation between some Ole Miss fraternity guys and a couple of truckers quickly spun out of control. One of the cooks, Lucius Perkins – fresh out of Parchman, came over to mediate the discussion but ended up taking an errant punch meant for one of the frat boys. Within seconds, Perkins had the trucker in a full nelson and was inching him toward the exit when the other trucker smashed Lucius over the head with a napkin dispenser.
All hell broke loose and soon, nearly everyone in the restaurant was throwing punches, chairs, and hashbrowns. One man suffered a power bomb onto a table, another woman’s wig was ripped off and thrown onto the grill; it was chaos.
Lucius, confused and staggering from a minor concussion, knew he had to get the situation under control because he wasn’t going back to prison. A light bulb went on in his head and he headed for the jukebox.
He swiftly turned the volume up and made his selection. Mr. Perkins waited and watched. As the dulcet tones of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” began to play over the din of moving furniture, punches, and slurs, he noticed a change. Suddenly, one of the truckers released his headlock on one of the frat guys. Another slap fight quickly crapped out as the slappers turned their reddened faces toward the jukebox. Bloodied men and disheveled women, black, white, Latino, and Asian, laid down their fists and chairs in stunned silence.
By the first chorus, the rumble was finished. Ketchup dripped from the light fixtures, the bathroom door was ripped off the hinges, the cash register was in the parking lot, but the combatants were at peace. And then it began. “Youuu’re as smooooooth as Tennessee whiskey…” came the voice of a woman from the window row. It was a keening, unpleasant performance, but it didn’t matter… people joined in. Soon, the Sigma Chi’s were arm in arm swaying with the tattooed Uber driver from Germantown and the truckers were hugging Mr. Perkins, and everyone was singing at the top of their lungs.
By the end of the song, apologies were made and the cleanup began. “Nobody even called the cops,” said Perkins. “This was so beautiful we didn’t wanna mess it up, man I was just crying, humanity can be good sometimes. And thank you, Chris Stapleton. You helped me break my cycle of recidivism. F**k 12.”
The cashier, Cheryl Fontaine, told us that nearly every single person helped clean up and some of them were even friends afterward. “Except that boomer over in the corner,” she pointed. “He keeps saying we’re all frauds because it’s not Coe or Jones’ version. Whatever.”