A few weeks back, I went hiking with my family. As the kiddo blissfully napped in her post-hike exhaustion, we stopped at a small burger joint to pick up a quick bite since it'd be over an hour before we'd make it home. I popped in by myself, leaving her father with her.
I was a little disappointed to find myself behind an enormous extended family ready to make their Sunday night order - but before I could manage a sigh, they practically escorted me to the front of the line. Go on ahead, honey, you know we'll be forever, mixed in with gentle Spanish reminders to their kids to let me pass.
I made my order and moved to the side, where I was soon treated to a remarkably tender scene: an elderly, and clearly somewhat confused, woman ambled around the room. At the front a very young man, fifteen if he was a day, called out a ticket number fruitlessly several times. Another middle-aged woman and I were just making the connection and about to speak up when the woman at the register gently got his attention.
"That's for Mrs. X, of course," she said. (I confess I can't actually remember her name.) "Now, come on over here, Mrs. X, I've got your dinner all ready." And she walked her over to her place, where she sat down her meal, spoke with her a moment, and smiled before returning to her register. Everyone there smiled just as brightly as Mrs. X.
Another young teenager, a young woman this time, studiously concentrated on my husband's shake behind the corner, her mouth twisted in effort, then breaking into an enormous smile as she handed it to me. We both beamed over it, pleased as punch with its final presentation - commercial-worthy, that shake.
Troubling as recent weeks have been, I've held that memory closely of a little place where everyone was happy, and everyone got along.
Heck, maybe we should all visit.