Poem: Tick Tock

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Tick Tock

A diner in New York.
Stylish and busy just below Time Square.
A mix of strangers, some in suits, some barely dressed,
some bleary-eyed from the long night before.
All in a hurry. All of them.

Smiles? One or two.
The intensity is palpable, a living thing
as bright colored waitresses rush,
a floor show, a frantic ballet
highly focused on dishes and time
and copious cups of coffee.
Hardly a word is spoken.
Hardly an eye connects.
Commerce at the trough.
Tick. Tock. Repeat.
Repeat again. Finely oiled anonymity.

You tell the waitress you are in no hurry,
that you plan to linger,
and before she can show her irritation you tell her
you are counting, and promise her a tip
for every table missed
and she looks at you like you are mad,
But…. she looks at you,
then looks around her,
and smiles,
seeing perhaps, for the first time today,
a person,
and discovering, to her surprise,
she likes it.

A few extra dollars on the table,
an investment
in humanity,
before it is forgotten.

About this poem

A true story in poem form, from a work trip to New York City, in a real diner (Tick Tock) about a year ago.


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