Did you ever wonder about the regulars at restaurants? The ones who walk in the door and the waitresses already have their drinks, so predictable it’s like the wind never changes course. Even more amazing are the regulars that eat at the same restaurant twice a day.
Today I started up a conversation with one of those men. He sat kitty corner to me at the counter at Frisch’s restaurant on Red Bank Road. The man had round tortoise-shell glasses that were a bit too large, thinning rusty-colored hair, and a white dress shirt and tan pants. I guessed he was in his early seventies. I didn’t know if he wanted to talk to me or not, but I decided all I can do is try. I decided to complain to him about my lukewarm eggs. “They’re cold,” I said.
“Send them back.”
“That’s my plan, if I can catch her.” I fumbled with my napkin.
“Mary,” he called out to the waitress picking up an order. “Her eggs are cold.”
Mary came right over. “Sorry,” she said. “I’ll get this taken care of for you.”
I smiled at her and turned to the man who had just helped me.
“Thank you,” I said.
He gave me a sideways smile. It pays to know the regulars, I thought.
“So do you have a busy day or a not-too-busy day?” I asked him. I didn’t want to assume that he was retired.
“Busy,” the man who sat next to him said. “But he’ll be back at 12 for lunch.” He wore a navy blue workman’s uniform with his name embroidered in gold on the pocket – “Jim.”
I thought it was funny how Jim had answered for him.
I could tell that they had met here in this restaurant, and had gone on meeting day after day for a long time.
Their routines might seem boring or predictable to the person who is always trying new restaurants, but it was clear to me that they took comfort in meeting up at the counter, in being twice a day friends. There are days we all need to believe the wind never changes course.