I took off work Friday, February 14th, ticking off a “personal day” of my five allotted per year, driving out of the city towards the emptiness of the plains. Escaping the hearts and flowers, happy couples and miserable couples, optimistic, hungry singles and bitter brokenhearted was my better choice if only for a long weekend.

By lunchtime, I felt hungry and had driven so far already that my choice in dining establishments was but one: George’s Daytime Diner, located just off a flat, long, and nearly-empty stretch of two-lane rural highway. I parked my car alongside a brown ‘80s Ford sedan, the only other car there, and walked in. It was like a hundred other little places I had been to: a nondescript, clean, dated, family-run restaurant with a row of leatherette booths running under the front windows, a few tables on the floor, and a service counter. No one else was dining there. I took a seat in the first booth, and opened the slightly-sticky plastic menu.

From the kitchen, a strawberry-blonde, freckled, and forty-ish waitress appeared, wearing mom jeans and a baggy t-shirt. Her nametag read “HELLO, I’M FOXY.” My face must have registered all the questions I had about that, and she nodded. “Yep, that’s my real name,” she offered. “My mom named me after the Jimi Hendrix song…you know the one, “Foxy Lady?”

“Oh!” I exclaimed, “Yes, of course,” mulling even more questions that I wouldn’t ever ask.

“You here all by your lonesome or are you meeting someone? Want to order now?”

“I’m fine,” I replied, not really wanting to tell anyone if I was alone or not, thank you very much. “I’ll have coffee, cream please, and the Georgeburger with cheddar, no lettuce, and fries.”

“OK, you got it, get it going right now for ya.”


I brought my phone out of my jacket pocket to check my work email, but there was no cell service. Frustrated, I stared out the window at the random passing trucks, listening to the pop of my hamburger frying on the grill. With no distractions, my spirit began to sink rapidly, as if I had tied an iron anchor to it. Down, down, down into the newly-murky waters, a physical feeling, a constriction of the chest. If I weren’t so damn hungry, I’d just keep on driving, keeping busy, keeping things away, for as long as I possibly could.

A clatter brought my attention back to the table. In front of me, Foxy had placed a sturdy white mug of steaming black coffee, a tiny silver cream pitcher, and a red construction paper heart, which looked hastily cut, with “HAPPY VALENTINES DAY” written on it in blue ball-point pen. I stared at the heart, as my own heart beat faster and time slowed to a surreal bend, because I could not look the waitress in the face.

“Since you’ll probably be the only customer in here today, I thought I’d give you the royal treatment!” Foxy explained. She stood and waited, as I tried to compose myself. I don't really know how long that was.

My face, I am sure, was flushed when I finally looked up at her. “Foxy, I’d be glad to treat you to lunch today. Please join me.” It took everything I had not to cry. She could not have known.

“Well…my goodness! That would be so nice! I’ll be right back with our lunches!”

The bounce in her step was sweet to see. I poured a little cream into my coffee, took a sip, and smiled down at the small paper kindness that came my way as another passing truck rattled by the diner without stopping, heading east.