There’s a subtle charm to the neighborhood diner.
The food isn’t quite memorable.
The decor, nothing to be blown away by.
The scent? Well, you end up smelling like food for the rest of the day.
And let’s be honest, the food isn’t all that healthy either.
But I still go. It’s my thing.
I feel weird if I don’t spend at least one afternoon every week hunched over the counter eating an Irish breakfast with eggs cooked over easy. Often, with a cup of hot water, because I feel it helps me digest better than if I drank it cold. Oh, and always with a mound of ketchup on the side.
There’s something about the overheard conversations, the whirr of the coffee machine, the slight tinkering of dinnerware, the sizzle of the grill, and the pop of the toaster, that provides an unusual sense of comfort that I’ve only recently come to notice and appreciate.
After all, why go to your local diner when you could go to one of the many new restaurants opening up with rave reviews and lines out the door?
I think it only comes down to one thing:
The diner is honest.
The local diner is not trying to be something it’s not. Yes. The food is a little oily. You will smell like food afterwards. And no, the toast is not gluten-free.
Perhaps that’s a bummer, but in return, you also get the comfort of knowing that in this space, no one is out to get you. Either you like it, or you don’t. It is what it is. In return, you don’t have to be anyone in particular either. You can let your guard down. In this space, like the messy stack of receipts next to the cash register, you also don’t have to have it together all the time. For once, in our long arduous days of trying to keep our lives in order, aka “Adulting”, we get to rub shoulders with people who are, well, just like us. A little imperfect. Not always in the most talkative mood. Often tired. But regardless, always hungry, and in need of some sort of support, even if it comes in the form of bacon and eggs.
And in those moments, we feel, I feel, a little less alone.
Cheers to the local diner.
by Jason Lam