On Sunday I ate breakfast at Red’s Sandwich Shop in Salem, Massachusetts.
I sat alone at the counter.
Across from this man.
He seemed nice. Smiling and making conversation with the waitress.
He ordered hot coffee.
And put the most sugar I’ve ever seen anyone put in their coffee.
He held the sugar shaker [see yellow arrow for reference] upside down over his coffee for six seconds.
Six seconds of sugar pouring into his coffee.
He looked up. Saw me staring at him. I smiled. Then looked away before I saw his reaction.
I did not want to over step the social boundary of two people eating alone looking at one another.
For breakfast I ate a vegetable omelet with swiss cheese.
Whole wheat toast.
A cup of coffee with milk.
I photoshopped a tomato out of this photo of the omelet. I do not like tomatoes. They gross me out.
A woman arrived and sat to my right.
Use the photo below for perspective of the seating situation.
I was sitting on the stool the yellow arrow is pointing to.
“Beautiful day out today isn’t it,” she said to me as she sat down.
“It is,” I said. Looking at her.
I got the feeling she wanted to make conversation with me.
I looked at my food.
I looked around the diner.
Looked at the people.
It was fascinating to be somewhere I’d never been.
Sitting close to many people.
Not knowing anyone.
“Do you want any sweetenah?” The waitress asked me in a Massachusetts accent.
“No thank you,” I said. Smiling in appreciation of the accent.
Who were these people?
They all lived lives. Different than my own.
Coming from and going to different places.
I would never see these people again.
It felt surreal.
A 50-year-old man and woman couple entered and sat at the counter. The waitress leaned over the counter and gave the woman a hug.
Two 50-year-old women sat to my left. One didn’t need to look at a menu to know what she wanted to order. The other wanted to look at a menu.
I finished eating.
“Have a nice day,” the woman to my right said to me. Very friendly. As if she knew me.
“Are you from around here?” I asked her.
“Yes. Live across the street. Thought I’d come have some breakfast,” she said.
“Oh nice,” I said. “I’m from New York. I’ve never been here.”
She told me to walk around. Look out for the Witch House and the Statue of Samantha. If I walk left I’ll go to the water and to look for the willows.
“Thank you,” I said. She was nice. I walked away. Paid the bill at the front counter. Walked back to my seat to leave a tip where I had sat.
“You have a good day now. And have a safe trip home,” the woman said to me.
“Ok, thank you. You too,” I said to her. I told her to have a safe trip home. Even though she lived across the street.
I left the diner.
I walked around the town for an hour on the beautiful Fall day.