Breakfast at Bob's
Our old friend and a good friend Jack has retired from being a lawyer and is doing a lot of traveling and writing. We recently had the pleasure of spending a few hours with him and his family here in the Rose City on one of their travel swings. Right now, he and his wife Belinda are on a cross-country drive from their California home to the East Coast. Jack's been writing every day, and yesterday's posting had an interesting tale in it:
Before letting go of South Dakota, I must mention our breakfast at Bob's in Sioux Falls this morning. Since our B&B lacked B, Belinda located a spot on the way to the interstate called Bob's. From the outside it was unprepossessing to say the least. Inside was a tiny space with one table and a short-order stove surrounded by a counter full of grizzled local farmers who looked like they ate breakfast wearing a hat every day for thirty years, and probably in that same seat. There were a few spots open at the counter so we sat, feeling from Mars. No one acknowledged us, and their own interactions were monosyllabic at best. The guy sitting next to Belinda had a KOREA VETERAN baseball cap on and looked like a poster boy for emphysema. We ordered, and the food was pretty good. A young couple with a baby came in, and he started asking questions of the older guys -- turns out everyone knew each other, except us of course. After we finished, the short-order cook came over and asked : "How'd I do?" We said fine and he asked us where we were from, and when we told him everyone looked up. The cook brought over a notebook for us to write in. The entries went back to 2002. I wrote something. By now, we're part of the family. The cook picked up Belinda's Fodor's and asked if Bob's was in it. It isn't, but he told us that Bob's IS in the standard roadtrippers' bible called Road Food. Not only in it, but, he said, in it consistently for 42 years! Well, maybe, but it was a terrific place. When we left, everyone gave us a big send off.
Now I will do my David Brooks imitation. When we first sat at the counter and were being ignored, I picked up the sports section of the local paper for something to do. I learned that the local college football team, the U of SD, had its butt kicked yesterday. The headline was: "Coyotes See Positives After 38-7 Loss To Central Florida." I'm thinkin', hmm. On the west coast or east coast, I don't think the headline would be about positives after a licking like that. This is my fourth driving trip across the country, and each time I am reminded that there is a fundamental WYSIWYG decency and optimism in the middle of our land that is not in evidence in the big cities on the coasts. There's a groundedness and a patience out here, and it may very well be one of our most valuable national assets. Maybe I ought to go back some day to Rushmore, set aside my left coast cynicism, ignore all the peripheral crap, and just appreciate those monumental granite faces for what they are. Okay, now it's time for the Kurt Vonnegut coda: And so it goes.