The Diner

The Diner (March 2019, Week 1, Day 3)

He didn’t mean for it to happen. He couldn’t have – I saw it all unfold and I’m sure, as sure as I am that I’m sitting here telling this story, that it was an accident. 

He’s a sweet man and has been since I met him seven years ago. We met right here, in this very booth. I had been coming here for about three months. Every day, Monday through Friday, I had come in, sat in this booth, and ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup. I’m the reason it’s a lunch special now – how’s that for fancy?

I was sitting here, though on the other side and in the corner, eating my sandwich and working my crossword puzzle when he came through the door. He stood out on account of the sobbing. It’s not every day you encounter a grown man overcome with tears, much less one walking into a diner at 12:30 pm. That’s the kind of thing you notice.

He went straight to the counter and leaned on it – didn’t even sit down he was so upset. Have you ever been there? So upset that the normal things are just too hard even when they would be easier? I mean, sitting takes less work than standing and yet there he was, sobbing and standing. That says something about him or his sadness – I’m not quite sure which.

That was what made me walk away from my sandwich. A man that sad needed someone and I wasn’t going to be the one who left him alone. I didn’t need to know him to see his pain. You might have done the same if you’d been there. I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder as lightly as I could so as not to startle him. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t look up. He just stood there letting the tears flow.

I stood with him for a full five minutes. The sobs quieted down gradually until they eventually stopped. He gave a great sniff and grabbed a napkin to tend to his face before turning to look at me. He conjured up a small smile from somwhere and I said something simple like “join me?” Those may not have been my exact words, of course, but that was the idea. He followed me to my booth and we’ve been friends ever since.

When that woman came in here, with all her piss and vinegar, he and I were sitting in this booth dawdling over our sandwiches. She was as mad as he’d been sad on that first day. She even went to the counter without sitting. He and I looked at each other before he slid out of the booth to go to her. It was like he was working to do for someone what I’d done for him all that time ago. 

Now, he wasn’t fool enough to put his hand on her. There are certain privelages afforded to ladies who look like me that do not extend to men who look like him.

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