Overheard at the Diner

When I walk into the diner now, Freddy goes and gets my coffee and small orange juice, Nancy (the waitress) waves me to a booth and says, “You don’t need a menu, do you? Same as always?” This leaves me with a rather big dilemma: late next week my daily appointments in Milford come to an end (that’s a good thing), which means that my driving past the diner each morning ends as well. I am seriously considering driving into Milford just to go to the diner for breakfast a day or two a week because I’d hate to lose my status as a “regular.” I haven’t yet gotten to the “Hi, Pat” status. The same people come in each morning. The waitresses seem to be very glad to see them and remark if someone hasn’t been there in a while. Nancy often sits in the booths of the regulars to catch up on local gossip. This morning the talk on my side of the diner (the counter side, not the window side) was who was wearing/using/buying/etc., things that were marked “Made in China” or “Made in USA.”

Over the years I have attempted (not very successfully) to buy things made in this country. Up here, however, it is a religion. The guy who sits with Ginny (who I think may be related to the owners since she occasionally speaks Greek) proudly displayed his LL Bean boots (“Made in Maine,” he said), his 1960s era plaid Pendleton shirt (“when they still made them in the USA”), and hunting pants also made in the US (as is his gun and ammo). For the record bear season has been extended until tomorrow. The bears, they decided, were made in the USA — they laughed heartily over that one!!

After he left to go huntin’, the other waitress came over the said that clothes made in other countries don’t fit anyway. And, she said with obvious derision, they had labels “Made in India,” and “Made in Vietnam.” After the latter, she commented, “They killed our boys and now we are buying goods made there.” I found it interesting that the War in Vietnam is still so close to the surface. It made me think about how I pride myself on being aware of what’s going on in the world. When I listen to polls quoted on MSNBC, I wonder who those people are sometimes, but now I know. There are certain issues, like where goods are produced, that are VERY important to people. I just hadn’t been in a place to hear it firsthand.

And so, I realize that there’s always more to learn about people and issues and perhaps going to the diner a couple of times a week is a way to stay in touch; a way to be more open to what folks are thinking about — people who don’t necessarily think the same way I do. Almost all the people in the diner were Romney supporters and now are concerned about the country, jobs, how the region will be affected by economic policies. As I eavesdrop under cover of reading my book or checking email, I realize that none of the men and women at the diner make negative comments about people only policies. I wonder if at some point I’ll be included in the conversation now that I’m a regular!