To the Man at the Diner

by Gina Mingoia

To the Man at the Diner,

The one right before the merge on 25A, you know, the one I went to every Wednesday, hidden behind two masks and a bottle of Purel—I hope you’re doing well. I miss our little talks, however brief, and I miss the friendly wave and the “See you next week!” While the world burned around us, you shrugged and said you were doing fine—and I could see that you were smiling from the creases by your eyes.

I never asked your name, but you always called me by mine. Thank you.

To the Boy at the Pizza Place,

The one I ran inside with my head down and tears in my eyes while the rain melted the snow in the parking lot outside—thank you for being so kind. From six feet away, through a glass partition, I could still hear your jokes, and under my mask I was smiling by the time I went home. You may not remember me or my name, but I think of you, and that day, every time I drive past that place.

For the complimentary garlic knots and the upper half of a friendly face: thank you.

To my Former Coworkers,

The ones I laughed with, cried with, and watched our friend die with, I hope you’re doing alright. We were each other’s lifelines, the ones we came to work for, writhing in our spinning chairs, watching the news until we couldn’t watch anymore. As the case counts rose and the virus hit our own, from six feet apart, we held each other close.

For those fleeting friendships, those transient ties, that make a diner, a pizza place, a group of people feel like home—Thank you. Thank you, thank you. There’s no way I would’ve survived any of this alone.


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