This is definitely the season for many of us. The season for family, for food, for sharing. People travel great distance for the season of all of that. Flying, driving, training. Its all grist for the great season mill. Here’s a bit of a backstory from my limited experience at not doing any of these things during the season.
Awhile back, I worked at Microsoft in Silicon Valley doing a data center thing. Its in a great location in Mountain View and restaurants and other diversions are close. Walking was great there too. It borders Moffett Field and the many walking trails around where some variable tech giants are. I would drive up Highway 82 to find a place to eat on occasion and one time I went to a Sizzler because I could. I am not a huge Sizzler fan but I like the salad bar and some of the food choices are good. I sat in there and watched the people come and go. Dawdling over my salad and waiting for my steak. I watched people come in and go. Then it dawned on me that just about everyone in the section I was in were single older guys. Had I found the home for old divorced guys in Mountain View and Palo Alto? Is this where the guys go that have no place to go? I know about that first hand during the season because I’m one of them. Everyone sat and appeared to studiously avoid eye contact but every so often their gaze would wander up and eye contact would ensue. I felt certain I had found the home away from home for old divorced guys. It was uncomfortable yet fulfilling because I too was one of those guys. My friend Bill said I had an “etcha sketch” and some of the lines from the days before had been erased. Being at that Sizzlers it dawned on me that some lines never erase. Were these guys lonely? Did they really want another relationship, friendship, boon companion? Someone to share a moment and the moment yet to come? So I left the Sizzler after eating. All of those 5 to 10 single guys just sat there eyes downward pointing. Waitresses flew by. Food delivered. I left.
As I remember this, later I would drive by and find that the Sizzler had closed. What happened to all those guys I wondered? What happens when the one place these wounded survivors go to is taken away? I also found a few other possibilities were closed up the road like Fresh Choice and others. Perhaps now these guys found a fast food restaurant.
I found that McDonalds seems to be a home for another set of characters years later. Retired guys by themselves gather for coffee, politics, watching young women arrive and leave. Nothing has really changed with the seasons. Now I sit there sometimes and do the same. I like to watch. Participating during the season is another thing. I’ve been told on Quora its easier for me to move forward and find another person.
But I’ve never wanted to so the story of Sizzlers has stuck by me and I’ve remembered those rather uncomfortable moments when we all shared a moment in a restaurant that’s gone.
The people may change but the seasons don’t.