This morning I had breakfast at the local diner, on the highway. It’s been ages since I've eaten there. Six years at least, I reckon. As I imagine is the case with any town or city, there are layers of residents here. From the get-go, it’s been farmers and ranchers, with miners thrown in, later on. Most recently, it’s become something of an artists’ hub; and even more recently, a rafting, skiing, biking mecca.
My first job here was at one of the chain burger places on the highway (within spittin’ distance of where I ate this morning). It was a solid introduction to old-timer/native residents of town. Those who had lived here longer than I’d been alive, and who typically did the hard physical labor I hoped, and still hope I never have to do. They’d seen quite a bit, the booms and busts, and were therefore not easily swayed by any shifty and surely temporary winds of change.
But after three years of working there, I got a job at the local coffee shop (since gone under, regrettably), which hosted a totally different clientele: the bronze and toned jocks/jockettes, trustifarians, and those coming here until moving on to the next OUTSIDE-accoladed hipster locale on their bucket list. From there, until currently, I’ve worked in the hospital kitchen, where I don’t see patients/clientele, but the staff does tend moreso toward the coffee house crowd of my previous job.
This morning, at the diner, I saw more than several folks whom I’d served back during my BurgerLand days. Along with the seeing of them came some of their stories: the rancher who is on constant lookout for 1946 pennies, since that’s the year he was born; the other rancher who was eating with his wife—his brother is married to her sister; the long-ago-retired attorney, who was later joined by his second wife (who also left ten minutes before he did)—he’d send monthly checks to his first wife, writing “Maintenance” on the Memo line, and she’d cross it out, writing, “Alimony” before depositing them. (These years, decades, farther along, that trophy wife isn’t looking much the trophy. Also, more than just eating on opposite sides of their booth’s table, they also sat at opposite ends.)
I put down the book-to-be-reviewed I was reading for the local monthly ‘zine, and began taking notes of my remembrances. “There be characters and stories, here,” I told myself.