Culture | Travel

Diner Talk

Everyone thinks of travel as exotic, and business travel as bordering on gluttonous. Well, let me shatter those illusions. This evening I’m staying in a dumpy Hampton Inn with a privacy lock that appears to have borne the brunt of a few too many kicks to the door. If there’s anything good about seeing that, it was quickly forgetting about the mildew smell that greeted me as I opened the door. But hey, the hotel sneaks just under the maximum rate for this particular corner of the world.

On the plus side, I got to experience the natives in the wild. By wild, I mean I went to a New York diner (open 24 hours!) and listened to the father and mother conversation at the table closest to me. Ever wonder if people talk like George and Jerry on Seinfeld when they’re at the diner? I’m here to tell you they hit the mark.

The son (more George than Jerry) did almost all the talking, with Mom playing the dutiful part of good listener. Talk ran from the state of the New York Yankees and reminiscing about the good old days of George Steinbrenner to a new car this poor guy purchased two weeks prior that clearly didn’t measure up to expectations. But mostly it was an overall appreciation for the amazing onion rings he crunched on between Yankee and car talk. After all, this was a New York diner, and food is a big deal here. The menu runs heavy and varied, while the bar menu runs comparatively light (5 choices of mainstream beer, and a choice of 5 mixed drinks, featuring a classic hit, the White Russian). But people don’t go to diners to pound drinks, they go fill their bellies and talk about the state of the world.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go to this diner to eavesdrop, but the sheer enthusiasm expressed for the range of topics made it impossible to focus on reading the latest book on the Kindle app. Sometimes you’ve got to savor the moment as it’s presented to you. I might be a few chapters behind pace in finishing that book, but my gosh I soaked up some unadulterated New York diner talk. And realized in the process that I’ve missed these moments of travelling bliss more than I dared believe.

By comparison, they probably thought my table pretty boring.

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