Community defined: roadside experience

I took the time to stop at a roadside diner during recent road trip.

It is the kind of place that is unassuming to the focused traveler; not to the community and to the random curious. Actually, I would better say the fortunate.

I've heard people say if you want to really know someone share a table with them. The message is people are more relaxed over a favorite cup of coffee, a hash browns and eggs in the morning, or a farmer's plate at lunch.

The farmer's plate is the stack of food that can only be conquered by someone who works for it, and even better someone who understands the plow to plate process.

This is one of those places. Customers entered the establishment more like family and farmhands who heard the dinner bell. The stranger is the one who showed up asking "can I see a menu?" The menu is deliberately simple, posted on the wall in its intentional simplicity. 

The kitchen staff can round up a steak to fill a plate, and a homemade dessert that will make you forget any intent of a diet. But the real delight is the atmosphere.

The waitress is known in the community and the neighboring "urban center." Most times, if she doesn't know about it, it probably isn't available, or isn't happening in town.

It is the character of community where crowded seating means you will likely get invited to someone else's table, where a random recognition might mean you get called out in the middle of lunch, and the mud-caked four-wheel-drive is not worn out just well-used.

The man in the corner cherishing his aloneness is just as known as the husband and wife taking a break from some home chores. Old school values meet old school procedures as "plastic" is a carry-out tray, not a payment method.

Those who get caught in that misstep may be offered grace... if you are locally known.

Sometimes the fun in life is to choose a table in a cafe you don't get the luxury of much, in a community you don't visit often. This was one of those times.