This place has regulars. They each have coffee cups on lattice of telescoping pegs along one wall. Most of them strategically placed next to “their” booth. Slowly conversation resumes, in hushed tones.
The local diner regulars don’t reflect the racial make up of the town. The history of agriculture means a long history of Japanese and Mexican families in town. The local Air Force Base is about forty percent African American. And airmen have spouses from all over the world. The Thai contingent is large enough to support three Thai restaurants. No one in the diner even has a summer tan. Hairstyles reflect the most popular “do” in the year each of them graduated from high school, from beehives and crew cuts to mullets and “The Rachel.” The fabric of choice is polyester; enough polyester to do a Cristo art happening.
The couples, one local who advised against the visit and one from out of town, who insisted “it's just the kind of greasy spoon that makes breakfast worth eating.”
A single coffee arrives. Eventually followed by water and more coffee. The couples wonder if the cook will be able to return to the griddle. The dishwasher looses interest first. With little easing of tension four meals are ordered and consumed.
When the bill arrives one of the African American men realizes that he has been undercharged. He singles for the waitress to return. She has relaxed a little, and manages to walk over without glancing to the others.
“You charged us for two omelets and a short stack. We actually had three omelets. We owe you another eight dollars.”
She is flummoxed. This is the last thing she has expected. The bill is redone and paid.
Not one of those people set foot into Hi, Let’s Eat again. Within a few years of this misadventure it closed. It was replaced by a happening burger joint, with a wide-ranging clientele.