Old Man at the Diner

Scrambled Eggs, toast, bacon and juice. That’s what he gets everyday, the old man who sits at the third table in the window at the diner on the corner of my block. I see him every morning in his sweater vest, hair neatly combed, shoes polished and news paper folded next to him on the table. Every day he sits there alone and eats the same breakfast. His Usual. That’s how he probably orders it.

He’s a comfort, something that I check on every morning. Make sure that the Old Man is there. I don’t know why he intrigues me so, but his regular patronage of the same table and the same meal is a comfort for me.

The diner often times makes me sad. All the people sitting at the tables in the window, all with someone, friends, family, smiling and laughing, makes me feel quite alone. He however is my steadying force.

I make up stories about this old man. His life. What he’s thinking. What he plans to do with his day. Sometimes he is this widowed old sod who after years of his wife cooking him the same breakfast before he went to work, now has to resort to going to the diner for his breakfast before he returns home alone to continue reading his paper and listening to the radio. Other times, he just someone who has lived alone all his life, too busy in his work to seek anyone out, and this is the only way he feels he can connect with others, by observing them at their tables. Oddly enough, most of the tales I spin about him have this morose romantic quality to them. He just seems like someone who has lived some sort of tragic life. Maybe that’s because he eats alone every day and orders the same thing, maybe it’s just because I’m alone and that’s how I feel sometimes.

I got worried once. He went missing from his normal spot for almost a week. Did something happen? Was he ill? Did he die? Did he suddenly decide forget this, I’m moving to Florida and leaving chilly New York far behind? I worried. I stressed. He wasn’t there at the third table in the window at the diner on the corner of my block anymore. I became all out of sorts. Then miraculously he returned: scrambled eggs, toast, bacon and juice. All was right with the world.

He must have had a cold I thought. Perhaps, his daughter had a kid and he went to visit her for a bit.

I don’t know. I don’t know even why I’m so taken with him. All I know is that it made me feel safe when I saw him at his table with his usual this morning, and that’s the only reason I feel like I can make it through one more day, tough times and all.

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