Every morning, I eat breakfast in the same diner, and one day a man was painting the windows with Christmas designs. He was completely engrossed, taking special care with all the reds and greens, getting the snowman’s smile just right.
One woman says, I wish I had that kind of talent.
Someone replies, you kidding? It’s a waste of time.
I can’t decide who’s right.
The next morning I look up from my French toast, and the man’s working on an Easter scene. The eggs all had intricate patterns—squiggles and spots and rings. He worked for hours. When he finally finished, everybody stopped to look. One man says, yeah it’s awe-inspiring, where’s my coffee?
The day after that, the man’s painting pumpkins. This is getting ridiculous, I say. Do you just let him paint what he wants, when he wants? The designs are pleasing to look at, but you can’t jump from Christmas to Easter to Halloween.
The waitress tells me not to worry. Then she tops up my mug, smiling.
Next thing I know, he’s painting Christmas. Again. That’s twice in one week. Last time it was a snowman beside a decorated tree, now it’s Santa, a sleigh, the reindeers…
Then, right back to Easter. A bunny hopping through a field. The waitress says don’t worry about it when I complain. Says the colours are vivid, really catch your eye, don’t they?
I say that’s not the point.
This goes on. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Halloween.
One day I’ve finally had enough, go out to speak with him. He’s painting witches whizzing around on broomsticks.
I say what are you doing? You repaint this window every day.
He stares at me. I say you got some sort of problem? A few marbles loose? You’ve got talent—go paint something that matters, something that’ll last, instead of coming here all the time. I’m trying to help you.
The waitress appears. Tells him not to worry about me, to just keep painting. Says I’m harmless. I shout don’t talk about me like I’m not here. She asks if I want some peach cobbler and takes my arm. I shrug her off, tell her to mind her own damn business. Then she disappears inside.
A crowd gathers. I explain to them the man painted Easter yesterday and Halloween today, that it makes no sense. I say I’m complaining to the manager, go inside, and then ring the bell. They say he’ll be along shortly. Do I want some coffee while I wait?
My son turns up, eventually. Says he’s taking me home. I say where did all those grey hairs come from? You must be stressed. He says yeah, looks at the waitress, says I’m sorry about all of this. She smiles and says don’t worry. He just had a rough day.
See you tomorrow, she shouts.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow the man will be painting Christmas designs. And nobody will think it’s strange.