Who’s at the diner off the highway?

The crowd is sparse this morning, but it is still early. You are greeted by a signboard, “Please seat yourself” neatly printed in black marker on glossy white.

A smiling never-still waitress, trim and friendly, but old enough to have an AARP membership, if she believed in that sort of thing, hustles over to your table as soon as you have chosen.

Two trios of plump elders are separated by a gulf of four tops. ON one side a table of men boasting about their old engines and lost wages. On the other, old white ladies catching up on vacations, neighbors, and grandkids.

By the door sits a full table of landscapers. Several keep a weather eye on the overcast between casual jibes, and jostled shoulders.

A young waitress informs her regular she was only missed yesterday because her youngest was sick and she had to stay home and care.

In the window booth, a nosey stranger sits nursing a large coffee and dawdling over the remains of his toast, as he gathers it all in for no reason other than he was here.