In a little corner restaurant, at the center of town, sits a little red booth facing the sunset. Book-ended by two other little red booths, the little red booth sits behind a large glass window, overlooking the second biggest road in town. The booth just beside this booth has a similar window, as do the tables and chairs beside the second little booth. In fact, the whole restaurant is filled with these 3’x 6’ windows siting end to end, around the three sides of the building closest to the sunset. The fourth side, facing the sunrise, is illuminated by little more than incandescent bulbs and spill light from outside, but it too holds warmth in the restaurant.
As the sun sets and disappears over the horizon, curvy metal lamps leaning from the walls and hanging from the roof, cast warmth, a man made warmth, over the place. Incandescent bulbs fill the room with warm, dim light and winter heaters begin their evening toil. In the midst of all this, a young man by the name of Sam sits at the little corner booth with a bag of books, a cup of hot chocolate, and the lazy evening company of other restaurant tenants.
A head nod, a jolt, Sam sits up with a start as the evening daze cuts out. “I’m falling asleep,” Sam mutters to himself, closing a book on mountaineering and looking around the restaurant at the other tenants. In the corner booth ahead of him, a family of six talks over a full dinner. To his back, a pair of college kids, maybe dating maybe friends, sips coffee and stares at thick lines of text, stretching across the lengths of their laptop screens. They say nothing to each other, but a casual observer can tell they enjoy one another’s company. “I would too,” thought Sam, “turning back around in his chair. “Maybe one day,” Sam continued, picking the book back up and opening to the last page he could remember . . . Chapter three, traversing the west face . . .
A head nod, a jolt, Sam awoke once again. He was either tired beyond words or exceptionally bored. Sam wasn’t sure which was the case, in fact he wasn’t sure of anything except for the fact that there was now a blonde woman just a few years older than him, standing beside his booth, and smiling at him, behind the glow of a tablet computer. As Sam looked up, the woman curtly introduced herself and the survey she was conducting for the restaurant. Though Sam was generally opposed to surveys, his exhaustion and the fact that a beautiful woman was talking to him made him more agreeable than usual.
The survey began by asking Sam’s opinion about the restaurant, and asking about Sam’s decision in choosing the restaurant. It moved on to other details such as the restaurant’s distance from home, Sam’s pre-restaurant activity, and so on. With every question, the survey grew in detail, but as promised, the survey never ventured too far into personal life. Through tired thoughts, Sam answered each of these questions to the best of his ability, keeping vague answers to a minimum and trying hard to answer accurately. When Sam’s final answer was taken down, the woman thanked Sam for his help and walked off to the front of the restaurant. Maybe she was done for the day, Sam thought. In any case, maybe now was a good time to try the book again. Chapter 3 . . . traversing the west face . . .
They say the third time is the charm. That may or may not apply to nodding off, but it is worth noting, as Sam sat up with a start. “Perhaps it was exhaustion after all,” Sam thought as he yawned and closed the book. Placing the book on the table, Sam looked around the restaurant once again to see if anyone had moved. Some tenants had left from earlier, but most of the same people were still in the restaurant, enjoying one another’s company. Sam glanced out the window at the cars passing by. Deafened by the thick windowpanes, the passing cars seemed peaceful and comforting. He started at them for a time, listening to the talk of the room. As Sam listened to the crowd, a familiar voice caught his attention and Sam looked back to confirm his ears’ testimony. The survey-taking woman from earlier was standing beside the booth in front of him, asking the family of six the same questions she formerly asked Sam. As the family jointly answered questions, Sam turned back to the window and listened to their response. They were much like Sam, in deciding on the restaurant, and it was funny to hear a similar response on their opinion of the restaurant. It was so entertaining in fact, that Sam soon found himself listening closely to their conversation. As the survey continued, the family being surveyed began to ask the woman questions, and before long it was the woman doing all of the talking, and therein lays the most interesting part of the conversation.
The family asked about the woman’s life, and about her job as a survey worker. To both of these, she replied by telling a short life story of sorts. She spoke of how the job took her across the states and around the country to various restaurants like this one. She spoke of how hostile people were throughout the country and how nice it was to be in a place where people were happy to answer a survey. The woman then spoke of a couple instances when irate customers moved her to tears. It humanized her, and caused Sam to pause and realize she was just another person trying to make it by in the world. By the time she finished and remarked how grateful she was to be in this town, Sam saw how wrong he was in his judgment call. She was just another ordinary person, trying hard to make a living in this world. She was no different than him in that respect, and she deserved every amount of respect given to other people.
At the end of the conversation, the woman and the family wished each other well, and went on with their lives. This profound serendipity caused Sam to pause and to remember the power of a kind word and an act of grace.
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Welcome to the blog! I've republished some of my favorite entries from previous blogs (found in the archives) and I am constantly creating new content for this section. As with the rest of this website, I hope you enjoy reading and exploring the many ventures I am undertaking. Thanks for stopping by! - Chris