It’s December 23rd. Tonight I had dinner with my sister and brother-in-law at the MCL cafeteria. It’s known locally for having lots of vegetables and plain but palatable food. It’s also known as the Medicare Cafe.
The cafeteria line has salads in portions, five or six different entrees in addition to fried chicken, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and several desserts. You slide your tray along to the cashier. Then an attendant comes and carries your tray to a table if you aren’t able to yourself. They are younger women in white waitress uniforms.
Most of the clientele is north of 65. Tonight several were elderly, some in pairs, many alone. Buzzing from table to table were the table waitresses, mostly older women, who refill coffee and clear the tables. The one who waited on us tonight moved slowly, bent at an angle slightly toward the floor. But she never stopped moving, pouring coffee, and talking to the regulars.
“She knows so many of them,” my sister said. “See that man? He’s here every time we come. He’s always by himself and reading a book.” The grey-haired man sat in a small booth alone, eating slowly.
Then the waitress shuffled over, refilled his coffee and gave him a Christmas present. He smiled.
I hope he had somewhere to go for Christmas. But someone did care. So he wasn’t alone.