A Small Shift Forward

There’s this diner I’ve been frequenting for years, a brisk, tidy little place on the west side of Manhattan, run by a Polish family. Not long ago, I stopped in for breakfast and found it as always: the same man who greeted, saw us to a table, the same waitresses, the bus boys. The menu was unvaried. The food was just the same.

But this time, something had changed, something new added: the lady who came around now and checked on every table.

I saw her from afar: a vision in yellow, smiling, asking, Everything okay? She had her system—musical voice, eye contact, first with the woman, then the man, keep it short, move on.

When she got to us, she sparkled—the gold sequins on her sweater doubling her sunshine. When she made eye contact, I saw that hers were impossible to miss, dark and flashing and outlined in a brightly painted aqua like coral from the sea. Red lipstick: she beamed. You enjoying? she asked.

Yes, indeed, we answered as she must have heard over and over, and by the time she finished her route, a new set of patrons had arrived.

From our end, the restaurant-goers, we appreciated her attention: not too much, not too little. And from the restaurant’s end of things, there she was, a sunny ambassador spreading cheer while double checking patron satisfaction.

It was a great improvement and such a little thing. I sipped my juice and pondered the mechanics of this transformation: just a small shift forward, and look now how the restaurant shines.

Photo credits: eggs – Ilco, sxc; juice – Ivan Freaner, sxc