The Wild Honey Buzz: Dancing through '22 - Blast from the Past, Gratitude & Praise for Cafes
Happy Summertime! Instead of a new dance this month, I am sharing this "blast from the past" - my Appalachian Clog Dance performance at a summer festival with the Holy Crows band about a decade ago! Enjoy!
While on a recent trip to New York City with my daughter, we had a practice we called "Moments of Gratitude" in which we'd just pause occasionally to express gratitude for whatever we were experiencing or feeling in the moment. Of course, there were many such moments! One of the moments occurred while we were having breakfast in a classic little New York diner in Manhattan called "Johnny's Luncheonette." We love the diners of NYC for their down to earth vibe and no-nonsense food and fast service. The eggs, toast and pancakes are often dished out with the infamous "New York Attitude" and accent which makes them even more tasty, ha! I was looking around at the diverse group of customers at Johnny's on the morning we were there and noticed my feeling of gratitude that we were all in there, behaving ourselves, nourishing ourselves and just enjoying being alive. These moments are especially precious as we are emerging from the pandemic which shut down so many cafes and restaurants. Upon learning we were visiting from Seattle, Johnny, who was very busy flipping pancakes on the grill, said he and his wife were planning to visit Seattle and he asked where we thought he should stay. My daughter said, "At our house!" Johnny replied, "Well, I'm not cooking!"
I had a similar experience while traveling with my husband on the Oregon coast. We stopped for lunch at the Newport Cafe in Newport Oregon. Peering in at the cafe, it looked like all the tables were taken, but there was a large one where two men were sitting at one end and the other end was available, so these two gentlemen signaled to us that we were welcome to sit with them. The customers were again a very diverse group of all ages. The two older men looked like they may have been heading to do some work in the woods with their beards, flannel shirts and weathered hands, while a young couple with blue hair and alternative dress sat at another table, and a vacationing family of eleven people occupied a large corner of the diner. A little girl in that group was celebrating a birthday. Our waitress was one of those people who is really really good at their job and acts as if they are genuinely enjoying themselves. She was friendly and efficient. Another waiter at the bar was teasing an elderly woman placing her order. She said, "I'll have a salad on the side" to which he replied, "OK, mashed potatoes, you gotta it!" There was laughter all around and heads turned as one of the cafe's famous monster burgers (8 pounds!) was delivered to someone who then began cutting off portions of it to share with his dining partner.
Looking around at this scene in the Newport Cafe, I felt the same sense of gratitude that I had experienced in NYC. We were for that frozen moment in time, just people gathered in that enclosed protected space, all minding our own business and again, enjoying our meals together. We felt like a family even though we were strangers. Perhaps the size of these cafes contribute to my feeling of affection for them? I'm sure that the divisive times we are living in when people frequently behave poorly in public places has something to do with it. It's easy to forget that the majority of us are decent, polite folks just trying to do our best and be kind to each other, just being "the better angels of our nature." Johnny's Luncheonette and the Newport Cafe are a continent apart, one on the West Coast of America and the other on the East Coast, and yet they are so similar. Of course, there are hundreds of small cafes throughout the world that host decent diners and offer excellent service everyday. I guess we could call them "gratitude hubs" along with any space in which we feel safe, happy and nurtured.
I am grateful for all workers in the service industry, especially to those who manage to be pleasant even when customers behave poorly! I have a friend who works in retail and am amazed at her patient attitude. Her outgoing personality and genuine love of people certainly helps! She tells me that repeat customers purposefully attempt to get into her line at checkout!
What about you? Do you have a favorite cafe, waiter/waitress or someone in the service industry? What are some of your recent moments of gratitude or examples of people behaving beautifully?
Much gratitude to you for sharing and for reading this post and for doing your part to contribute positively to our communal experience as we "dance our way" through life.
Johnny's Luncheonette, New York City
Yaquina Head lighthouse on the ruggedly beautiful Oregon coast near the Newport Cafe.