Since I had not been to the diner in a week or so, I went yesterday for breakfast. It was mostly quiet but everyone was in their “assigned” seats. No one really pays much attention when I walk in anymore — I just take a seat in the area that is waited on by Nancy and watch the action from there. Nancy always has something to talk about that is interesting. There is a steady stream of locals who say good morning and many of them sit down with Judy at the first one or two-person booth. I am not the only one who is ready for spring and the talk was about the weather and impending snow. More talk among retail shop owners about the lack of shoppers and so I ate the usual and left soon after. As I was leaving, Judy asked if I’d be in this morning (Tuesday) so I said, “Of course.”
On the way to the diner I decided that, instead of my obsession with weather.com, I’d ask the regulars what they thought the weather was going to be like for the next few days. I am totally convinced that the information gathered at the diner is accurate and well researched; research includes many years of living in this area. When I entered, Judy invited me to sit with her — the first time I’ve been asked. Delighted to have company I sat down and ordered breakfast. We talked about many things and as we did, people walked by that usually sat down with Judy so I felt a bit of an interloper. I learned a lot about how the diner works and about Milford. First of all, rarely does a cell phone ring. Mine did on Monday and everyone looked around with several people asking, “Whose phone?” When I confessed it was mine, there was laughter (I’m not sure why) and I knew to cut the conversation as short as possible.
This morning, the men who walked by the booth saw me sitting there and moved on to the counter. All very friendly and lots of smiles but still, I felt a bit odd. We sat for about 45 minutes during which I learned that the public library is moving to a new building and might be hiring part-time workers (sounds appealing) and that might be a good fit; that Rite-Aid is a good place to go for part-time work because the people are very nice; and that retail business in Milford is not what it used to be. Apparently restaurants are doing quite well but the people who are coming to eat are not continuing on to Broad Street shops to browse and buy. It’s a commentary of what has gone on in the country I think. People are not willing to spend like they used to. Judy informed me that 2002-2005 was good for business and I suspect we can find parallels in plenty of towns like Milford that are dependent on tourists. There are regulars, apparently, but that business has dropped off as well. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that. The difference in Milford between 2008 when Adrian and I first came here and now is obvious. Some businesses have closed, some have relocated to smaller spaces, and some just carry on. Upriver Home depends on web-based sales and I think the used bookstore does some online business as well. The diner seems to have weathered the situation well and is always busy when I get there at around 8:30 AM.
I finally got around to asking about the weather and the consensus is that Milford will get between 1 and 3 inches of snow and I will probably get more. When I left Judy said — “well, we won’t see you for a couple of days.” I got up to leave, my seat was quickly filled, and everything was as it should be!