I would LOVE to be able to sit in a diner and eat a sandwich, even a mediocre one. With a bottomless cup of diner coffee. Just to be around people. Smell the diner smells. Maybe have some rice pudding. Give the waitress a larger tip than usual. Because we’ve all been having a hard time.
I was eating lunch in a diner today – because that’s what we people in Jersey are known for: eating in diners. It was my escape from the stress of the office. I thought I would do a little journal writing, a little reading, enjoy a cup of soup and a sandwich (which ended up being lentil soup and a chicken fajita wrap – with fries (see my last post about stress eating before you bitch me out for indulging in fries)).
Did you notice that parentheses with parentheses thing there? Is that permissible in writing? I mean, I do it all the time in my work as a programmer, aka: “developer,” aka: “software engineer,” aka: “FREAKING MASTERMIND GENIUS!” Not to be referred to as a “coder.”
return(“Bitch, please! That’s like calling a runner a jogger!”);
Back to what I started with…
So, I was sitting at my table at the diner, nursing a Diet Coke (aka: schlepping my brain with aspartame), and I heard a woman at the next table say,
“You just have to make it through this life. Then everything will be okay.”
Now wait a minute! What kind of empty platitude was that? It inferred that “this life” is merely something to be endured, something to be weathered. Just lean into the wind and keep your eyes closed against the rain. It will all be over soon and then everything will be okay. That also assumed a lot about the afterlife, assuming there is an afterlife. Her statement contained as much dogma as the proclamations of the most radical religious zealot, with flippancy in place of fervency. THAT was faith: stating an eternal premise without a note of hesitation or a flicker of thought.
And what was the person possibly suffering through to whom she was offering this pithiness, who, I realized when I looked up, was on the other end of the phone into which the lunchtime philosopher was speaking? Cancer? Betrayal? Poverty? Good God! Maybe the trials and tribulations of old Job had revisited this poor soul! How harsh and hopeless was their condition that the only consolation that could be offered was, “You just have to make it through this life?” I couldn’t help but feel a measure of sympathy for this person.
Do you know what she said next? After the person on the phone spoke and she listened, presumably… after I waited in suspense and rehearsed all the tragedies listed in the above paragraph… after my lentil-filled spoon stopped in mid-air before my open mouth…
“Ok. So, I’d like to make an appointment for a mani-pedi. For two people. Thank you.”
Oh, come on! Jesus Christ, lady! You were on the phone with a nail salon?! (No, that’s not using his name in vain! I mean that as a prayer! Because SOMEBODY needs to straighten out this woman’s view of life and death and compassion! I mean, Jesus Christ!)
Well, that revelation demanded a reassessment of my beliefs about the suffering of old Job on the other end of the phone line. Cancer was quickly replaced by human trafficking. Poverty was usurped by money laundering. Heartbreak was displaced by prostitution.
I shook my head and thought, I just need to make it through this life. Then everything will be okay. Because, Jesus Christ willing, there won’t be any stupid people there! And if there is lentil soup on the menu, that will be paradise!