About Diners.

About Diners.

A Story by Boyd Johnson


There’s something about diners. Some all-american quality inborn, that we all silently consent to. The same food, the same coffee, the same piece of pie, and the same help; all can always be found in any building with silver paneling outside and neon lights around the perimeter not without one or two blinking on and off around the 24 Hour sign. I had not yet had breakfast on account of my beagle pup getting into the refrigerator before I had woken up, and spilling out all of my remaining eggs while attempting to snatch for himself a bit of cheese from the back row of the bottom shelf. My roommate immediately notified me upon my waking that the bottom shelf of the refrigerator was no place for eggs on account of it being an easy place for them to fall off, and no, he could not have cleaned it up, for he was letting the dog out on account of the spot of indigestion the dog had after eating an entire block of muenster cheese as well as the protective plastic wrapping it had been contained in. Breakfast, I was eager to enjoy. I had been late every morning this week in getting to work on time, however I had also not enjoyed a proper breakfast in that same week, which,  was in fact why I had bought the eggs the night before. So I walked into the diner, eyeing the empty seat I wanted from outside the window as I approached, not next to the counter, however, not too far away that I would be forgotten when my coffee needed refilling, and far enough away from anybody else that I would be permitted to read my paper in peace during my visit. As I neared the door of the establishment, a Gallagher bus, division of Leprechaun Buses who specialize in tours for the elderly and trips to and from various places of worship, immediately pulled up to the walkway to the door, opening its doors and letting out a slipshod militia of blue haired, horn rimmed glassed, and suspendered mumblers hungry from prayer. Rather than making my way in, I held the door for the troop, and sure enough, all of them headed directly for the corner I had designated before entering as my safe haven for an enjoyable breakfast experience.


After waiting fifteen minutes while the hostess, whose makeup had most likely been purchased in bulk from a man wearing a purple sharkskin suit working a booth at the Stormville Flea Market and applied directly after purchasing with no mirror, sat the entire troop of past prime prayer peddlers, I was seated directly in front of the cash register. I accepted the seat with little protest for fear of being victim of a hair in my hash browns, of eggshell in my omelet. When I asked the hostess who sat me if I could have a cup of coffee, she responded by telling me that the group who had just come in had cleaned them out and a fresh pot would be on the way if id be patient enough to wait for it. I told her I would be, and asked her I they might have a paper I could read, and was told simply, “No.”.


She walked away, and fifteen minutes later, I was blessed with cold and burned coffee, and a menu.


After looking through my standard choices of Western Omlete, Roadside Omelet, and something I feared called a Marist Omelet, I decided simply on a bacon and cheddar cheese omelet with hash browns and rye toast. Another fifteen minutes later, a fifteen minutes filled with the bickering over “The Wheel” and why Alex Trebeck was no longer a suitable host the “Jeaopardy”, a fifteen minutes filled with patrons at the register asking me “How you holdin’ up little lady?”, “No food today? That’s no way for a pretty little girl like yourself to start a day.”, and “That coffee looks a little cold, not drinkin’ it today? Don’t you know this place has the best coffee in Poughkeepsie?” I as finally blessed with a waitress ready to take my order.


After she took my order, I realized, that a man two tables over who had just paid his check and left, not before he commented, “A girl like you shouldn’t have to eat alone this early in the morning.”, had left his paper sitting on his table with his plate, only containing anymore the uneaten complimentary slice of cantaloupe, an unattended copy of the Poughkeepsie Journal. I readied myself, and when the waitresses and hostesses seemed occupied with the loud group who had stolen my seat of privacy and breakfast enjoyment, I got up and went to grab the unattended paper. No sooner did my hand touch the paper, did a waitress, who apparently popped out of my blind spot, ask me if I was trying to steal her tip. I simply replied “No.”, and relinquished the paper to the busboy and sat back down.


What seemed like much more than fifteen minutes later, my food arrived, burned, over salted, and under stuffed bacon. The hash browns looked like they did not know the definition of the word griddle, the toast was not toast but buttered bread, and I, unlike some people, did not receive the complimentary piece of cantaloupe. I chalked all this up to the cook’s distaste for making twenty omelets with hash browns in a row after looking over to my friends, the elderly, and noticing they had all ordered primarily the same thing. I choked down half of the omelet, one third of the hash browns, and one piece of toast by soaking it in my stale coffee, which, actually make both slightly more palpable.

When the waitress returned less than two minutes after I put down my fork, with the check, she asked me, sounding wounded, “Didn’t you like the food?”, I replied “The omelet could have had some more bacon and the hash browns were under done.”. She sighed and mumbled something that sounded like “Some People.”, sandwiching a four lettered expletive. I paid my bill, and left a decent tip for fear of future visits might be less enjoyable than the current. The register girl asked me why I was eating alone, and a man walking in who thought I was sitting two tables away from where I was, asked if he could have my paper. I told him sure.


When I walked outside, my phone rang. It was my roommate, telling me he had gone to the store for eggs and bacon, and if I wanted an omelet when I came home. Oh, and, the neighbor gave us the paper, and could he do the crossword. I said "No.", and that i was already late for work.

© 2008 Boyd Johnson

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A Marist Omelette probably involves the body fluids of Rik Smits. There are a few spots where it could be sanded and varnished just a touch, but the level of detail and the sharpness of the observations more than compensates for any minor blemishes contained herein. It's knowing, witty, biting without being outright nasty.

Posted 13 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


I like how you set our narrator up as the constant fall-guy...kind of a Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm haha; nothing ever goes the way she planned. Smashed eggs, pup with bellyache, idyllic seat stolen...
This means that we empathise/sympathise with her right off, and are eager to see what happens while she is at the diner. You handled the people's comments nicely - sexist and intrusive enough to be annoying, not so much that she could lash out without getting her food spat on.

I agree with W.k.k that you need to read through this and 'sand and varnish', plus pick up on the typos, but it's a good read. Stands as a short story, and is good enough to be the leading chapter in a longer story should you have more minor mishaps in store for your protagonist.

Thanks for sharing it.

Posted 12 Years Ago

A Marist Omelette probably involves the body fluids of Rik Smits. There are a few spots where it could be sanded and varnished just a touch, but the level of detail and the sharpness of the observations more than compensates for any minor blemishes contained herein. It's knowing, witty, biting without being outright nasty.

Posted 13 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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2 Reviews
Added on December 3, 2008
Last Updated on December 3, 2008


Boyd Johnson
Boyd Johnson

the great and oft forgotten north of nyc. poughkeepsie., NY

a freak. an outlaw. a hot piece. -j.m. a hometown boy who loves the hudson, his drink, and his hat. hiding under the train tracks, with a bottle of irish moonshine, toasting to it slipping thro.. more..