A Tale of Two Diners

After a weekend of enjoying Michael’s company and working hard to get the house ready for spring, I drove into the city on Sunday. (I must point out here that, once all the planters were out, the grill brought up on the deck, the porch semi-organized, and the fireplace cleaned out and wood put away, we got about 2 inches of snow! Jay, from Homer’s Construction, blamed me for the snow having jinxed the weather by taking planters out of the shed!)
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Back to the diners. On Monday morning early I drove to Brooklyn to spend the day with Rachel and Riley, found parking and got a text from Dave to meet them at “their diner.” I went to the 5th Avenue Diner in Park Slope, had a cup of coffee while I waited, and watched as regulars came in to the much smaller space than “my diner.” I found it interesting and revealing that we so quickly take ownership of a diner moreso than a restaurant — Rachel and I do not consider DuJour “our coffee shop” even though we go there frequently. I reflected on the personal nature of diners. The waitress at 5th Avenue Diner was friendly, knew all the orders for her regulars, and kept my coffee cup filled. Never once did I feel like she was concerned with how long I sat there. Once Dave, Rachel and Riley arrived, she was accommodating of the stroller, interacted with Riley, and made us feel very comfortable. I can see why Dave considers this a place worthy of being labeled “our diner.”

This morning I went into Milford to my diner — The Milford Diner. I was greeted by name by the waitress, Carol, who knows all the local gossip, who’s doing what for Easter weekend, and any other information that she comes across by visiting all the tables. Then one of the owners came out from the back and also said “Hello, Pat, how’s everything?” Carol assured me that Judy, who usually sits in the first booth, would stop by and visit in a little while. I had my breakfast, Freddy kept my coffee cup filled, and I thought how much like the other diner this was. Diner food has always been one of my favorites — when I was in high school, somehow on Friday nights, many of us ended up at the Plainview Diner (or Sandy’s but that’s another story). No cell phones, texts, emails, or IMs and miraculously we all ended up at the diner late-ish (not too late) on a Friday night. I suppose it’s a matter of comfort; where one feels free to talk, laugh, take one’s time, and no one judges.

I have a theory that diner waitresses are different from restaurant waitresses. Diner patrons are different from restaurant patrons. There’s an atmosphere in a diner that caters to regulars, tourists, kids on a day off from school, and occasional truckers and others passing through. I guess that’s why so many of us like them. Diner menus are definitely interesting, too. I wonder how they can offer pages and pages of options but that requires a lot more research and reflection. If you are traveling soon, or are in a small town, go to the diner — make sure you talk to your waitress!