The Diner | Mark’s Remarks

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Ever since our kids have been little, Michelle and I try to steal away some place every now and then.  

Rarely is it a lengthy stay, and we usually end up finding a place that serves dessert and decaf coffee.  Even though it’s supposed to be a date, such a mini-soiree usually ends with us stopping by the grocery store. That’s reality.

Since we decided to venture out at 8:30 p.m. on a Sunday night, our choices were limited. Throw on top of that the pandemic. Furthermore, areas of the city shut down just like a small town does after 8 p.m.  Challenge.

We finally happened upon a 24-hour diner, which really closes at 10 p.m. due to current guidelines.  It was your typical little diner: counter with stools, milkshake machine, jukebox, some beat-up but clean tables and chairs, a waitress who called us “hon” and a board with today’s specials.  Next to the specials board was a list of pies. It was a bit of a time capsule. Pretty cool. Nothing fancy and we liked it that way.

The other couple in the place was sitting at the counter and had chosen a playlist of 1980s music on the jukebox, most likely asking the waitress to blast it. When we came in and sat down, the volume was turned down.

We noticed the couple at the counter were in spirited discussion about something, and every once in a while the lady would clap her hands and snap her fingers, dancing around while she still sat on the stool, eating her fries. Due to her exuberance, we assumed in our judgemental way that the couple had visited other establishments before coming here to finish out the night.

Also through judgmental eyes, we noticed the huge age difference between the couple and our normal curiosity kicked in.  

Because it’s not polite to stare or ask questions, we just smiled and ordered our pie.

“What is that?” cried the exuberant 1980s fan as the waitress warmed up our slices of pie, squirting a good supply of chocolate sauce on Michelle’s piece.

Soon, our new friends had a piece of pie as well, and whirled around dramatically on the stool to thank us for ordering pie.  Otherwise, she would have never known it was an option.

Normally, we might have rolled our eyes at her overwhelming friendliness, but her manner of conversation was so infectious, we began to see what a lot of fun she was. A little over the top, but fun.

Her friend – old enough to be her father and then some – told us how they’d both been good friends for years and were not a couple.

“We just hang out,” said the lady.

The more they talked, the more we realized they were indeed just good buddies.

We learned about the gentleman’s heart issues and how he had undergone two radical heart operations, only to bounce back quickly and be the picture of health now. She told us how she once taught school, knew people from our town, and basically told us all kinds of tales about her travels and shenanigans.

There was a period of time we talked about where we’d been that night, and the subject of our church came up; that’s where we’d been earlier. I think our new friends expected we were out gallivanting around the night spots of the city. 

In any case, we talked about denominations and how people can focus too much on the religion and not enough on a relationship with Jesus. We weren’t stuffing our beliefs down the throats of our new friends; they had asked us and continued to talk to us about their own beliefs.  It was a good conversation.

Honestly, when Michelle and I sat down, we wanted to retreat to a corner table and keep to ourselves.  However, because we stepped outside our comfort zone a bit, we ended up meeting some interesting, very kind people who were searching just like a lot of people. Searching for answers, searching for kindness and searching for just plain old good conversation.

Do I think we are these great people because of our actions? No. Remember, I’ll admit that at least I wanted to roll my eyes and put my “weird” stamp on the situation. I’m glad I got over myself and chose to just be kind.

After our new friends left, we spent the next 15 minutes finishing up our pie and talking to the waitress. We talked about how many years she’d worked there, how many grandchildren she had, and all sorts of topics.  

As we left, we gave her a bigger tip than we usually give, and we told her we’d enjoyed talking to her.

“You make sure you come back and see me, hon.”

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