Tag Archives: Diner

Happy Flag Day!

I just love Flag Day, but I always get so bummed out that it’s not a bigger holiday. I mean, I’ve already said, “Happy Flag Day!” to at least half a dozen random people, and nobody really gets it, most people just kind of look at me like I’m nuts, maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get an awkward smile in return. Nobody’s ever like, “Happy Flag Day to you too!” Which sucks, because Flag Day’s a real day, and it’s awesome.


My family was big into Flag Day when I was a kid. My mom would wake us up really early and she’d make a special Flag Day pancake breakfast. I don’t know how she did it, but each pancake came out exactly like the American flag. And I’m not talking just a plain rectangle, no, they were the shape of a proud flag that’s bravely blowing in the wind. Then she’d put out blueberry and strawberry jellies, so we could decorate the stars and stripes ourselves. It was awesome.

I went to the diner this morning, and, whatever, I always get a little sad on festive holidays as an adult, for whatever reason, I can never seem to recapture that Flag Day magic of my youth. I asked the waiter if he could somehow get the chef to at least try to make my Flag Day pancakes. He kept saying, “What?” every time I explained to him what I was looking for. “Pancakes shaped like an American flag blowing in the wind with a side of blueberry and strawberry jam,” and each time, “What?” Finally he just said, “OK boss, you got it,” and he came back ten minutes later with the most regular looking regular pancakes I’ve ever seen in my life.

That’s OK I guess, that’s not an official Flag Day tradition, it was just something my family always did to really amp up the spirit of the grand old flag. Kind of like our annual flag hunt. After breakfast, my dad would lead us outside, where he’d spent all night painstakingly hiding little American flags all over the backyard. “First one to fifty flags in the winner!” he’d shout out as he pulled the trigger on his Flag Day starter pistol. It was cool because when he fired, a little flag popped out and unrolled itself, just like you’d see on a cartoon.

We all had American flag t-shirts and shorts, we’d play outside on the Slip-N-Slide and dry off with these American flag towels that we only used on Flag Day. My parents got really into it. I remember one year my mom bought this America Flag doormat, and we all thought it was a really cool addition to all of the Flag Day paraphernalia. But later in the day my grandfather came over. He was a World War II vet, and he got really upset about the idea of someone stepping on the flag.

And yeah, everybody got really quiet after that, the realization that we’d all been stepping on the flag, all day, on Flag Day. My little brother was only like four or five years old, and he started crying, wailing. He was totally inconsolable. My mom tried to reassure him, “It’s OK, it wasn’t on purpose, look, I took it off the floor and I’ll clean it off, it’s going to be fine.” But my grandfather was getting even angrier, “No!” he shouted, “Let the boy cry! You should all be crying!”

After like fifteen minutes or so, the scene was only escalating, and my father, who had so far been reluctant to oppose my veteran grandfather, finally made a move to try to diffuse the situation. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that the sprinkler system went off. My dad had rigged the whole setup so that miniature American flags popped up from underground.

“What is this? You think the flag is some sort of a joke?” That was my grandfather again. His face was beet red at this point. And he was wearing a blue and white shirt, so it was actually kind of funny, I think we all thought it, how he sort of resembled a really angry American flag. But nobody dared say anything. We all just stood there and tried to act contrite until my grandfather left in a huff, screaming stuff about, “double-ya double-ya two,” as he backed his truck out of our driveway.

Flag Day was never the same after that, the next year’s celebration was markedly subdued in comparison. And like I’ve said, Flag Day today is nothing like the Flag Days of my youth. Still, my iPhone’s calendar app had Flag Day preinstalled as an event on today’s date. So that was cool. And I found a deck of American flag playing cards at a store a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been saving them for today, so hopefully my wife agrees to play a few hands of spit or gin rummy. We’ll see. We actually don’t play cards that much. Because yeah, it’s kind of boring, and there are so many more interesting things to do.

Happy Flag Day everybody.

I almost met David Wright

I went to the diner last weekend and right as I was sat, I saw this guy that I went to high school with sitting a few booths down. The last thing I wanted to do was get into a fake “Hey, how’s it going, so good to see you, how’s life,” type of conversation, but I didn’t want to be a dick either, and so I avoided eye contact, hoping that he didn’t see me sort of staring at him initially as my brain tried to figure out how I knew this guy.


But was he looking my way? I couldn’t remember for sure, and as I was about halfway done with my burger, and I know this sounds totally crazy, I started to get a little upset. I mean, if I saw him, he probably saw me, and why wouldn’t he want to come over and say hi? Right, like I just said, I didn’t want to say hi to him either, and so, whatever, I tried to let it go, hoping that he wasn’t just as surprisingly annoyed as I currently was about having been stiffed out of one of those awkward, “What are you up to these days,” back-and-forths.

I made up my mind to force the situation, I’d get up and be like, “Is that you?” although, just as I went about to actually put my plan into action, I realized I couldn’t even remember this guy’s name. Sophomore year, we definitely sat across from each other in at least three classes, but I don’t know why, I was drawing a blank. Was it Tom? Pete? It was something like that, Billy maybe?”

“Mike!” I heard another voice say coming at me. Only, it wasn’t coming at me. It was coming at Mike, his name was Mike, I can’t believe I couldn’t think of it. Here was another guy I went to high school with, I’m pretty sure his name was Brian, he must have been meeting Mike for lunch. And as Brian passed by my booth, we definitely made eye contact, it was only for like two seconds, but a solid two seconds, like two beats of definite eye contact. I went to make a subtle kind of head nod, like a, “What’s up,” but I think it might have been too subtle, because he just ignored me, and I tried to play it off like I had an itch on my nose or something.

“Charlie!” Mike said. So this guy’s name was Charlie, not Brian, and then they started talking, but the diner was busy, and even though I tried to hear if one of them said something like, “Did you see that guy a few booths down? Was that Rob?” there was no way I was able to make anything out. I did glance that way occasionally, but I didn’t want to come off as too creepy, and so, whatever, I just wanted to finish up and leave.

I mean, this is why people feel self-conscious about going to a restaurant by themselves. Because, what if that guy did say hi? Or what if my nod was slightly more than imperceptible? I’d say hi, these guys would say hi, and, and then what, they’d say, “Great, see ya later?” Would they feel maybe pressured to invite me to join their table? I’d have to say yes, right, I mean that’s polite, so we’d have to grab a waiter or a busboy and they’d have to move everything over. I’d be eating whereas these guys would have just been ordering, and so the timing would be off, there’d be the question of separate checks, or maybe even separate waiters.

I just wanted to leave, seriously, I was in my head now and I wanted out. But just before I had the chance to ask for the bill, guess who walked in? It was David Wright of the New York Mets. I couldn’t believe it, because this was just my regular diner, I mean, I guess celebrities go out for regular food once in a while, but this was just unreal, David Wright, walking right past me.

“There he is!” Mike said to David Wright. Man, he was there to see Mike and Charlie? Now I was kicking myself, because if I hadn’t tried so hard to avoid that bullshit conversation, if I’d only thrown in a, “Man, can you believe how long it’s been since high school,” or a, “How’s your family, everybody doing OK,” I could have been standing there at the table just as David Wright walked in. They’d have had to introduce me, maybe invite me to sit down with them, man, that would have been awesome.

Was it too late? It was probably too late. But I really needed to try. At the very least I could have endured an awkward two seconds or so to grab a selfie with David Wright, after which I’d bow out gracefully, and that would be that. So I walked over and I tried way too hard to play it cool. In my head, I wanted to pull off a natural double take, like it would’ve looked like I wasn’t going out of my way to bump into them, but then I’d be all, “Whoa! Mike? Charlie?”

It came off too forced. Because, and I always forget that when I’m playing out these scenarios in my head, I’m thinking that people are paying attention to me pretending not to pay attention to them, when in reality, nobody’s paying attention to me, not really. So from these guys’ perspectives, it must have just been, them sitting down at the table, and then all of the sudden I’m there, interrupting whatever it was they were doing with me, “Whoa! Mike? Charlie?”

“Yeah?” Mike said.

“It’s me. Rob.” Now all three of them were looking at me, but nobody said anything. “From high school.” I added.

“You’re from Ohio?” Mike said? “You went to Franklin?”

“No, I went to high school here on Long Island. You guys aren’t from Long Island?”

And they just shook their heads back and forth, which would have been fine I guess, an honest mistake. Only, it was definitely a little strange that I had called them out by their names, Mike and Charlie, names that, yeah, I guess I only knew because I overheard them talking to each other when they sat down. So I don’t know if they made that connection or not, but all I could think about was how obvious it was that I’d been spying on them.

“Oh really? That’s crazy. You look just like some of my friends from high school. Sorry for the confusion guys,” I didn’t even bother addressing the fact that I said hi by name, but whatever, I just needed a picture with David Wright, and then I could make my graceful exit.

“Sorry to bother you, but if I could just ask a favor,” and now I turned to David Wright, “Do you think I could get a photo?”

And it was even more awkward than I could have imagined. Everyone kept looking back and forth at each other with confused faces. Finally I just kind of leaned in a little closer, and nobody actively objected, so I of went for it, I took the selfie David Wright and me, said, “Thanks guys!” and then I left.

It was like half an hour later, I was back at my house and I’d already posted the photo to Facebook and Instagram, “Look who I met at the diner today!” was the caption.

One of my friends commented, “Who?” And I just typed back, “Haha.” But then another friend wrote, “Seriously, who is that?”

So I wrote, “David Wright from the Mets.”

And then like ten people shot back, “No, that’s not David Wright.” Some of them even posted pictures of David Wright from the Internet, with comments like, “This is David Wright. Who is that guy?”

And yeah, seeing them side-by-side like that, it definitely wasn’t David Wright. I’m telling you, in person, I don’t know if it was the light, but in the diner the resemblance was uncanny. But now, I mean, they kind of looked alike, like if you told me they were cousins, I’d totally believe you. But whatever, now it all made sense, the confusion, the awkward moment at the diner. I just kept the photo up on my wall, hoping everyone would think it was some sort of an inside joke that they didn’t get, because if I took it down, it would look like I had no idea what I was doing, like I’d have to admit to the Internet that I’d asked a random stranger to join me in a really weird selfie.

California burger, medium

I was having lunch with one of my friends at a nearby diner here in Queens. Although I probably eat here once a week at the minimum, it’s not like I’m all that familiar with this particular menu. But I’ve grown up eating at diners, I worked at a diner all throughout high school and college, and so I’m super familiar with the New York diner menu in general. Sure, if you look closely enough, the brushstrokes might go in the occasionally different direction, but if you’re just browsing from a casual distance, it’s almost exactly the same anywhere you go.


“What are you getting?” my friend asked.

“The California burger,” I told him without even looking at the menu. I go to a diner, I don’t want to look at the menu. All it’s going to do is signal to the waitress that I don’t know what I’m doing, like I need a few minutes or something. I don’t need a few minutes.

“That sounds pretty good,” my friend said, “I think I’m going to get that too.”

The waitress came over, “Hey guys. Can I start you off with anything to drink?”

I don’t need you start me off with anything to drink. I’m ready to give you everything. Don’t worry about my friend still looking at the menu. He’s ready too. I’m not going to ask him, I’m just going to go ahead and let you know that, we’re both ready, we’ll give you the whole thing right now.

“I think we’re ready,” I told the waitress, “I’ll take the California burger, deluxe, I’ll have  it medium, waffle fries, and can I get a Coke? Please? Thank you.”

“And for you?” She asked my friend.

“I’ll also have the California burger. Medium-rare …”

Big mistake. I’m not going to say anything, of course, I don’t want to come across as being too pushy, especially since I may have rushed the ordering process a little bit. But, and I get it here, I really do, usually medium-rare is the way to go. You’re eating at a steak place, medium-rare definitely. A specialty burger restaurant? Again, anything about medium-rare and you’re just wasting your money.

But at a diner, or diners in the tri-state area anyway, medium’s always your best bet. Chances are the burgers are frozen, which, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I actually like the taste of frozen beef patties, but I’d prefer to give the whole thing at least a little bit of time to come down in temperature.

Plus, and this is in no way trying to disrespect the staff, but think about the guy working the grill. Think about all of the other burgers he’s trying to cook at the same time. Everybody that goes to a diner, everybody orders medium. So he’s got a whole section of his grill dedicated to cooking medium burgers. He’s got it down to a science. But then a new ticket comes in the window. “Order in!” the waitress calls out, and instead of the standard “M” circled next to the order, it’s “MR.” The grill guy thinks, OK, I got this. Medium-rare. And he tries, he really tries. But he’s trying a little too hard. He’s out of his element.

Just … just trust me. You go to a diner, you order a burger medium. Anything under, you’re going to want to save a little bite to send out to a lab once you start getting sick later that day. Anything above, well, I hope you like eating hockey pucks.

“You want that deluxe?” the waitress was still here, it was apparent that my friend didn’t have this down to the science that I did.

“Yeah … regular fries please.”

Regular fries. Man, who goes to a diner and gets regular fries? There’s a reason that they charge you fifty cents extra for waffle fries. Because they’re fifty cents more delicious. Seriously, regular fries are just that, regular. They look like they’ll be pretty tasty, but once you take that first bite, it’s obvious that these things aren’t even a tenth as good as their identical looking cousins from McDonald’s. No, for whatever reason, despite all of the things diners do right, diner fries are never up to par. They’re not salty enough, they’re dry in the middle, you need at least a bottle and a half of ketchup to get through one order.

You’ve got to go with the waffle fries. Or onion rings. But onion rings are a distant second place. Waffle fries are what diners do right. You don’t even need ketchup. I mean, if you wanted to lightly coat the end of one waffle fry just to capture a little essence of tomato, go ahead, that couldn’t hurt. But it’s unnecessary. Diner waffle fries are fantastic, a treat in and of themselves. And for only fifty cents? Please, I’d gladly pay two, two-fifty extra for waffle fries.

“Here you go boys, enjoy,” the waitress said as she placed the burgers on the table. “I’ll be right back with another Coke for you,” she nailed it, I didn’t even have to ask.

For whatever reason, diner burgers are always served open face, and so it took me fifteen seconds or so to balance all of the toppings on top of the meat and close everything shut. I picked the whole thing up in my hands, studied from which angle I’d attack my lunch, and took a first bite. It was perfect. Juicy. Delicious. I wasn’t really surprised, that’s what I love most about diners, the consistency, their almost inability to screw up a burger and fries. But while I was lost in the flavor of meat and bread, my friend interrupted my feeding.

“Wasn’t there supposed to be avocado? Cheese?” he hadn’t even touched his food yet. He was kind of just looking around it, peering under the toppings, giving my burger sideways glances, trying to see if our meals were identical.

“Oh yeah,” I told him, “You’re thinking of a restaurant California burger. This is a diner California burger: lettuce, tomato, raw onion, and mayo.”

It didn’t even occur to me that he wouldn’t have known the difference, and yeah, when I heard him fumble with the medium-rare and the regular fries, I guess I should’ve known to give him a little heads up about what exactly constitutes a diner California burger. Because yes, he was right, kind of. If you to a restaurant, especially one of these cool artisanal craft burger spots, a California burger most always comes with avocado, some sort of jack cheese, a specialty sauce, like an aioli or a sriracha infused mayo. Yeah, now that I was really thinking about it, that’s what it’s like at the restaurant where I work, it’s the California burger, it’s topped with organic arugula or something like that.

But diner burgers are different than restaurant burgers. I’m not saying that it’s better or worse, but there’s a parallel menu system that defines what you’re going to get when you order at a diner. And this is especially true regarding the burger section. I don’t know how it happened or from where it originated, but all diners have pretty much the same exact burger section. Even though these operations are individually owned and managed, it’s like they must have had their menus inspired from the same source.

Like a Texan burger. Without being as familiar as I am with the diner menu, what sort of toppings and sauces come to your mind just from hearing the words Texan burger? Maybe some tangy barbeque sauce? Nope, that’s the barbeque burger. Smoked cheese? No, that’s a Vermont burger. Or maybe it’s topped with chili? Chili burger. Spicy peppers? Mexican burger.

A Texan burger is a regular burger with a fried egg on top. That’s it. Welcome to Texas. Yee-haw. Or the London burger, served on an English muffin with a slice of raw onion. I don’t really know any British people, but this is exactly how I imagine them to eat their hamburgers. My favorite is the Twin burger. No, it’s not a double burger, that is, one burger made with two patties, but it’s two individual hamburgers served on one plate. Why order two burgers when you can just order one twin burger? It’s genius.

Maybe none of this makes any sense, maybe you haven’t been to too many New York diners. But like I said, I’m intimately familiar with the thick-as-a-phonebook diner menu, I have a deep understanding of that whole page of burgers, there’s got to be at least fifty choices. And yeah, I don’t have an explanation as to what exactly is so California about a regular burger with lettuce, tomato, onions and mayo, but that’s what it is, that’s the California burger. If you wanted something with avocado and cheese, you probably should have ordered a Santa Fe burger without the sautéed peppers and onions.

As soon as I took my last bite, a busboy materialized out of thin air to take my plate away. The waitress was right behind with check in hand, “Anything else today?” as she dropped it on the table, not a question, a formality really, a nice way of saying, “Thank you, please leave.”

I looked at my friend’s plate. He was done, like he stopped eating, but there were a bunch of toppings that had spilled out of his burger, globs of mayo next to his half-eaten portion of regular French fries.

“That was great!” I said with a big smile to my friend as I counted out my money for the bill. Even though it was noticeable that he was a little underwhelmed with the whole diner experience, I wanted my enthusiasm to shine through, maybe he’d see it, how happy I was, that I wasn’t faking it, that I really love the diner, and maybe he wouldn’t give up hope that next time things might go better for him, that maybe he’d figure out how to order correctly.

Because that enthusiasm, the huge smile of satisfaction, it wasn’t forced, I wouldn’t have been able to stop smiling if I wanted to. Because I love diners. I could eat at a diner for every meal, every day, for the rest of my life. When I’m an old man someday and I retire, that’s all I want to do, sit in a booth, drink coffee, and order all my diner favorites. It’s like that’s where I feel most comfortable in life, at a diner. There’s seriously nothing better.

Can I get some more coffee? A little more coffee, please?

There’s this diner right down the block from my place. I love it so much. I love diners in general. There’s nothing better than sitting down and being handed a menu as thick as a phonebook with absolutely every single dish in the world printed somewhere inside. I never even look at the menu, because I know that whatever I wind up wanting to order is going to be in there somewhere, and if it isn’t, someone behind the line will just make it for me anyway. Diners are the best because they’ll do anything you want and it’s never a big deal.

I love this diner, but I’m not sure if I like going there for breakfast. As soon as I get up every morning, I’m automatically starving. My first thought is always: what do I have to eat, and how long before I can start eating it? I get started on breakfast before I take a shower, before I brush my teeth. I’m just always really, really hungry. If I go to the diner, I have to get ready first, which means that my hunger is going to mount and get stronger and tug at the corners of my consciousness. I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone else, but if I let my hunger get past a certain point, it wins. It says to me, fine, you want to be hungry? You’re going to be hungry. And after I get past that point, there’s nothing I can do that will satisfy it for the whole day. I’ll keep eating, but I’ll still be hungry. Once every couple of years or so I’ll find myself either waiting in a waiting room or being stuck in a car in the middle of nowhere for like eight hours. It might not be exactly that situation, but it’ll be some sort of scenario where I’m starving and there is absolutely no way that I’ll be able to put any food in my mouth for an extended period of time. In this case, my hunger wins, but it doesn’t stop. It metastasizes into something cruel, something vicious, something that, when I finally do get myself in front of a plate of food, won’t even let me enjoy it. Do you know what I’m talking about? How sometimes you get so hungry that when you finally get to eat it actually hurts? It doesn’t feel good or satisfying at all. It’s like your stomach has started to feast on it’s own lining, and it’s all you can do to put something, anything back in there to stop your whole digestive system from self-destructing. And each bite you take you wish you could take out, but you know that you just have to pay your dues and take your lumps and try to remember to always keep a bag of something or a piece of bread or fruit in your pockets at all times, especially when you think you might be somewhere without access to a snack for a while.

It’s obviously not that extreme, getting ready to go to breakfast at the diner, it’s only like maybe an extra half hour to an hour, getting ready, getting out of the house, walking to the diner, waiting to get seated, waiting for the waitress to come over, waiting for the food to come out. But the same process that eventually ends in me not being able to enjoy my food begins somewhere in that time span. So even though I love the diner, and I love a diner breakfast, I’m not really sure how I feel about going to the diner for breakfast.

And then there’s the issue of coffee. I get up in the morning and I love to drink coffee. I make a giant pot and just sit there and drink it and eat my breakfast. Going to the diner, it’s like the coffee is this whole separate hit-or-miss process. On a best-case scenario, I’ll sit down at the table, and a busboy will come up to me right away, even before the waitress has a chance to say hi, and he’ll say, “Coffee?” nothing else, not “hello,” not, “Would you like some …” just “Coffee?” And I’ll just say, “Yes, please, thank you so much, coffee.” And he brings me over a cup of coffee. I can’t be alone in this. Maybe people like me have this look that people who work at diners have learned to recognize as an expression of anguish that can only be satisfied by the immediate serving of coffee. And diner coffee is the best. If I could choose one type of coffee to drink for the rest of my life, it would definitely be diner coffee. It’s always so fresh because they’re constantly serving pots and pots of it. It’s just the best.

But they bring it out in these tiny cups. It has to be a huge joke. I wish they just had a coffee machine installed at every table. Barring that, I wish they’d serve the coffee in a giant cup, a cup big enough to hold five or six cups of coffee. As soon as I’m served my first cup of coffee, I like to down it in one gulp, before the busboy even has a chance to walk away, and I want him to see this. I want him to see me pour this scalding cup of hot coffee down my throat, and I want him to know that it physically pains me to do this, but he’ll get it, he’ll get the message, that I really wanted that coffee, despite the pain, despite the burning, so go get the pot, fill me up, and keep it coming.

But that’s, like I said, a best-case scenario. A slightly less best-case scenario involves the waitress having to come over, asking me if I’m ready, and I say that I am, and I have to order my cup of coffee in the same sentence that I order my large glass of orange juice and my Greek omelet (I’m being hypothetical here. I never order the same thing for breakfast. A Greek omelet just happened to be the first thing that popped in my head. But I’m not being hypothetical about the OJ. That’s always the same. Well, maybe I’m being half-hypothetical, because every once in a while I’ll get a large half-OJ half-grapefruit juice. But that’s only if I get my coffee first, because I don’t want to overload the waitress with commands that might hinder the timely delivery of my coffee.) When everything’s ordered all together, it really deemphasizes how badly I’d like the coffee to come out first, to come out right this second, can you just send over the busboy maybe? Coffee?

Amidst all of these less-than-best-case scenarios, one time I had an cup of coffee at the diner on a busy Sunday morning, and I had moved the empty cup right to the edge of the table so anybody working in the restaurant could see that I needed some more. But my waitress wasn’t around. Finally another waitress came to the booth in front of me with the pot and started pouring, and I let out a sigh of relief, but I shouldn’t have let myself get too comfortable or too relaxed, because as I closed my eyes to let out that sigh of relief, she disappeared. So now I had to wait for my waitress to show up, and I had to kind of wave her down, which I never do, because I’m a waiter myself, and I really hate it when people flag me down, or worse, snap at me, or scream out, “Hello!” to get my attention, because can’t you see that I’m really busy? I’ll get to you in just a second! But I got her attention really quick and asked for just a little more coffee, please, I’m sorry to have flagged you down, I see that you’re really busy. And she says OK and disappears. And right as she fades out of my peripheral vision, I see the busboy from across the room, and he points to me and mouths the word, “Coffee?” and I’m thinking, oh shit, what do I say? If I say yes, then there’s definitely going to be a weird awkward moment where the waitress who I totally inappropriately begged to stop what she was doing to get me some more coffee will run into the busboy with another coffee pot, both of them clearly wasting their time on the same customer for just a cup of coffee in what’s obviously a very busy diner. She’ll think that I asked her for coffee, but then got so impatient that I also asked a busboy.

But, there’s no way that I could tell the busboy no because, and I know this from working at a restaurant, the minute I say no more, then I’m totally off of his coffee radar for the rest of the meal. He’ll think to himself, that guy’s done with coffee. He said no more coffee. And then I’ll have to constantly be waving down my waitress for the rest of the meal. They’ll hate me. So the busboy is waiting for me to answer, so I just kind of make this pained expression of my face and nod, “Yes, coffee.” And he goes to get the pot, and he gets it, but as he’s making his way back over here, just like I predicted, my waitress comes out of nowhere and fills my cup. And it’s super awkward.

I take a sip and the busboy appears again, not to be outdone by the waitress, and fills me up, even if it’s just a sip’s worth of coffee. I guess it wasn’t all that bad. I try to explain myself to the waitress but she’s as uninterested as humanly possible and not only that, she’s visibly annoyed. She drops off the check and it says, handwritten, “Please pay at the register!” and I’m thinking that this has to be a personal message, because every time I come in I always just leave it at the table, because that’s how we always did it at the diner by where I grew up, and it was never a big deal. And at the restaurant I work at now, there is no register, not for customers anyway, it’s just for the staff, so we just always just take the check and the money, you always pay the waiter there, and I always get so annoyed when a customer stands up with the check and looks for somewhere to pay that doesn’t exist, but now here I am, my cup of coffee, my check before I had a chance to ask for it, and I feel just as stupid, just as stupid as I imagine my customers to be when I’m looking at them wishing they would all just sit down and stop waving and wait for me to have a second and I’ll get to them next.