There’s a restaurant/truck stop in the vast nothingness that is Saskatchewan that has become a regular haunt of mine. Well, regular in the sense that I always stop there when passing through. Why? Because of the butterfly sausages, hash browns and eggs over, of course. Day or night, rain or shine, they’re always the same. There’s something to be said for such consistency in this day and age, don’t you think? Particularly at a roadhouse where the cooks are moving through faster than the trucks.
I’ve not been through here in the last eighteen months or so, but there is one other constant, besides the food, and that is Mel, the waitress. The first time I showed up and sat down, Mel came over to ask the usual questions: where are you headed? where are you from? how long have you been on the road? are you coming back this way?
Over the years I have become a regular, and we have entered into an easy banter about nutty cage drivers, speed traps, truckers (of which there are many that stop here) and motorcycles. She wants to own one some day. Not a Harley of course — too expensive. Rather, something foreign and more affordable.
This time, however, I am in my car. Mel hasn’t recognized me, perhaps because of the length of time since my last stop, but more probably because I’ve arrived by car, and I am sans beard. This has allowed me a great opportunity to pay more attention to the eat-in crowd.
The foursome at the table in front of me consist of two women with their backs to me, and two men facing, one older, the younger on the outside of the booth. The men wear baseball caps with truck logos on them. The younger one wears cowboy boots. Okay, he wears at least one cowboy boot, since I can only see the right foot from where I am sitting. The boot is well-worn and muddy, and has a leather boot strap for half of a set of spurs.
Talk of favorite country and western singers and songs floats across the table. Johnny Cash is mentioned. The titles of trucker movies prevail, although I don’t recognize any of them.
My meal arrives, transported by Mel. She hurries off to wait tables. I must have arrived just before the truck-stop late-dinner rush. I eat in a silence broken by random bits of conversation that echo around the diner.
It is dark and very late, and I am in a hurry to get back on the road. I walk past the four people at the table in front of me, pay my bill and walk out to my car.
I forgot to look for that other spur.