After a long, frustrating day yesterday, I stopped at a local restaurant to treat myself to dinner out. Not surprisingly, I was seated in the bar at a high top. No telling whether hostesses think I'll be more comfortable sitting there alone or whether they don't want to waste a big table or booth on one person, but it happens a lot. I never mind, and last night it turned out to be a blessing.
At the high top next to me, closer to the kitchen, sat a silver-haired man with a salt-and-pepper gray haired woman. They had three trays of appetizers on their table, but neither of them ever took a bite. Instead, a series of servers stopped by the table, helped themselves to the food and chatted with the couple. They discussed one young woman's upcoming hair appointment and whether she should cut off her beyond-waist-length ponytail. They commiserated with one young man about his car problems. Another young man stopped to ask what they thought of the new girl he's dating.
Tattooed and pierced, cheerleader-types, and faux-hawked young toughs paraded by, pausing as long as they could without ignoring their customers. A cook came from the kitchen to lounge and chat. A young man came by in street clothes before his shift started. The older gentleman leaped to his feet, held out one hand to shake and grasped the young man's shoulders with the other. The young man returned the embrace with enthusiasm.
Finally, I asked my server about the couple. "Oh, they're just the nicest people in the world," she said. Turns out this couple has been coming to the same restaurant every Sunday and every Thursday night as long as this young woman has worked there--four years. She doesn't know when it started. Every employee in the place loves them. These grandparent-ish folks make toys for the staff's children at Christmas, know details of their lives and provide counsel when needed.
Apparently, these folks don't have kids of their own, so they found some young people to love at a neighborhood restaurant. It's as good a place as any, I guess.