Breakfast at the Diner — #2

"Are you guys open?" — Asked by someone who'd just walked into the diner … despite the door being unlocked, despite the presence of three people eating breakfast at the counter and others eating at scattered tables, and asked while he was looking directly at the waitress, who was pouring coffee into my cup at that moment.

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"Do I have to wear a mask to eat here?" — That was the next customer, a few minutes after the idiot who asked, "Are you guys open?" The waitress answered deadpan through her mask, "It's hard to eat through a mask, mister."

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"Shhh," says a guy at the counter (not me!) to a couple of ladies at a nearby table. They were being a little too loud for decorum. "I will not be shushed," said one of the ladies, loudly and mouth agape. She stared at the guy with her eyes almost shooting sparks, and then she started laughing, and said, "Sorry, Phil," and he started laughing too. Customers at the diner often seem to know each other.

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Some schmuck down the counter from me is boring his companion with tedious details about his investments, and he says, "I've lost about $28,000 from this pandemic." Failing to censor myself, I answered out loud, "Well, that's good news, isn't it? You lost twenty-eight-thousand bucks, but you can still afford breakfast in a restaurant."

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Yeah, it's good to be back at the diner. I used to come here with my wife, when I had a wife. Been coming here so long it feels just plain Right to be sitting at the counter, salting my potatoes and dripping coffee off my mustache onto the Formica. I recognize some of the other customers, and while I don't particularly like any of them I also don't hate any of them, and that's saying something. I actually do like the waitress, in a wholesome way. And I like my omelet and hotcakes.


I'm a grumpy old man who lives alone and has few friends — basically a hermit. Once a week I have breakfast at my favorite diner. Most weeks it's my only in-person interaction with other humans, which is not my strong suit.

Yeah, I'm aware of the coronavirus, so I go to the diner at dawn, before it gets busy. I wash my hands before and after, cough into my elbow, spray Lysol on my food, pay at my plate, tell the waitress to keep the change, and hold my breath while leaving until I'm outside. It's a little more dangerous than staying at home, but life would suck without breakfast at the diner, so get off my lawn.

And remember, decent people leave a generous tip.


Breakfast at the Diner

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