This morning, I took a side trip to a place I've only been one other time. After a morning errand run, I happened to visit a local Waffle House in a small town outside our capitol city. I sat and ate, had a light conversation with my mother-in-law, and watched.
The early breakfast was a visit to Americana. It was nearly a trip back in time to a fifties or sixties diner. The floor was tiled and slightly slippery, the booths close together, but not too close as the main counter with stools ran down the middle from end to end. The sounds of potatoes frying and spatulas scraping a grill echoed off the wall. America had been awake for a few hours and the visitors were slipping in and out. It was the consummate place to watch America as many of those who make up the middle of the country were in attendance.
There was a Black couple, my guess is a woman with her father. She wore a name badge holder on a lanyard around her neck which makes me think she works a government type of job. She was dressed for work in an office. Her father, possibly retired with the current mode of dress, slightly styled and casual. A police officer slipped in and ordered a meal to go, as did a bus driver from the transit authority. The only thing missing from the uniformed sector was a postal worker.
Two older white couples sat quietly in their booths as the staff of ladies wandered back and forth with coffee pots and plates filled with eggs and potatoes and toast ready to fall off the side. A trucker in a dump truck walked across the lot and in. He was appointed, as one would expect with boots and jeans and a pot-belly that was slung low across his belt. A bald guy with a beard sat across from us, his arms spread across the two stools beside him. A regular it seemed, he traded jokes with the waitress while she tried to school the new girl who was timid, but had an engaging smile. She'll be okay. She just needs a few shifts under her belt.
Along the wall of windows to the front, an older Black man talked with a younger man. I couldn't determine his race simply by the color of his skin. I would guess Latino, but I could be wrong. He wore his black hair pulled back and weaved into a ponytail. I had the feeling they worked together. Again, I could be mistaken. Others came and went with nods and smiles. There was a distinctive din that hovered above the room. It was conversation.
So what does all this mean? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps everything. It was middle America in the morning. An early Autumn day underway, but no one cared that the mix of people was anything more than it was. In that short hour, we lived together, ate together and talked together as one people, because that's who we are.