Yesterday we went to lunch at a local deli. When we first moved here over 20 years ago, there were several locations of the local deli, including one downtown where I worked. Over the years the owners have sold first one location, then another, until now there are only two (I think) original delis left.
I was surprised to see that the menu hadn’t really changed at all. You still order by number, and number 5 is probably the perenniel favorite. It’s something like a battered, deep-fried chicken breast served on a bun with bacon, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo or mustard. Basically it’s a coronary. Then there’s a super version of it, although I can’t remember what makes it ‘super’, that’s, well, quadruple bypass.
Hubby ordered the usual Reuben. I had a chili taco salad.
This particular location has seen better days as far as its decor is concerned. It’s dark, a bit seedy. The space was probably a shoe store when the shopping center was first built. Remember Thom McAn Shoes? Had those great big display windows on either side of the entrance. My dad bought me a pair of black and white saddle oxfords from good ‘ol Thom, in ’75 I think. I was in the eighth grade. All the cool girls wore b&w saddles. I used to love to look in the shoe store windows.
Well, at the deli the windows on one side are for dining, sort of a raised platform dining experience. The opposite window has a hand-painted board with Tom and Jerry extolling the praises of the soup, salad and sammiches.
It’s been years since I’ve had a taco salad from the deli. When I worked downtown our whole team would troop down the block to the deli, and my best friend and I would always order taco salads. There was interesting elevated platform dining in that restaurant too. We’d always try to get a big table in the upper level so we could be loud and goofy and not disturb the peace. Sometimes there were 10-12 of us piled up there, munching and complaining about management and stupid project requirements and unreachable goals and deadlines designed to be missed. It was kinda fun.
Of the mob of us, only 1 still works for the company and his job is to be the go-between for the system users on one side and the foreign, off-shore contractors (that used to be us) on the other side. Some of us were able to transition into web and internet development, or network administration. The rest of us filled in where we could until we quit or were advised to seek employment elsewhere. A few have moved away, including my friend.
So I sat there, eating my taco salad, the sights and smells of the deli bringing to the forefront of my mind all those people, all those lunches, ups and downs in our careers and our personal lives, Several of us had children the same year; now those babies are college freshmen. There were separations, divorces, remarriages, more babies, life and death itself, all celebrated around the tables at the deli.
The taco salad I had yesterday was just as good as it always was.
The memories were oh so much better.