writers blockI watch people there. It’s not the design of the old place, but that’s what it’s best at…. heaven knows it’s not the food.

I’m no restaurant expert, but if I were the person in charge, I’d change a few things. Then again, I seem to be the only one who really notices the glaring imperfections.

I’m not sure which one has more imperfections; the old restaurant or the people who frequent it. I marvel and appreciate the simple folks that don’t mind the imperfections – I don’t think they see them… but I do.

The floor has old stains that if someone were determined enough could wrestle them off the outdated 8″x8″ brownish orange ceramic tiles that were cleverly grouted in black… at least I hope it was.

The golden orange swiveling oak bar stools mounted on the steel poles that are secured to the floor tell of the generations and style of time and culture from a distant past.

I wonder if it’s the low ceilings that make the place feel cozy, like home away from home… only dirtier. It’s different on that side of town. The waitresses and cooks who overcook the simple food about eight feet away from the bar area interact like family. They’re loud. The cooks boom box glares the oldies station while the cooks talk politics.

The waitresses in the blue collar area bus their own tables and wear the stains on their matching uniforms with honor. They and the cooks interact like it’s part of a show the customers get as a free perk.

“Hey darlin’ – What can I get you?” the friendly waitress who knows me as a fairly quiet regular asked with a hint of southern charm.

“Egg white omelet, one extra egg, and onions – No cheese and no mushrooms today – Oh and Pam spray instead of butter,” I answered.

“You got it! – Have it right up!” she announced.

I sat with my pad of paper and favorite pen struggling to find words in a world that was spinning inside my head until real life snatched my attention. When my imperfect food arrived it was even more imperfect than usual. After I finally got the waitresses’ attention I pointed out to her kindly, “This has cheese in it.”

She quickly filled my coffee cup, dousing everything with splashes in a three foot radius and dropped off more creamer, the type that comes in the little round mini-containers with the peel-off lids. As I poured the creamer into my coffee it dropped like a chunk of sludge. It took some time, but I did eventually get my waitresses’ attention again to trade for a new cup of coffee and cream that actually poured.

There I was in an imperfect world; me, trapped in a week of writer’s block as I began to study the folks in earnest. I watched an ancient man with his wife and a cane that kept him from falling over, he was bent, permanently, at the waist. One regular, a man in his probably late forties that rides his bike year round and talks to himself, barks, and howls for no apparent reason, sat in his usual seat at the breakfast bar. I considered the single mother/waitress that can’t afford dental care, the one that worked for thirteen hours on Thanksgiving.

After too much coffee making my way to the bathroom after eating my healthy omelet that they had forgotten the third egg on the next try as well as almost drowned in grease, I came sliver close to slipping on the greasy floor that must have been mopped with dirty water.

I realized the imperfect place was really just a step away from disaster… Kinda like the rest of us that have the grace of God in and on us. The way I figure it, I fit in pretty well with that place and the folks in it…

So I went back the next day too.