July 16, 2023
By Arthur H. Gunther III
There was a recent social media short of the type that would have made a full feature story back when we were not losing two newspapers a week. It was about a fellow in Massachusetts who passed away in his early 90s, just months after running a hometown diner since 1956. The name escapes, but the humanity does not.
In this topsy-turvy world when stars, sports figures and royalty are worshiped, but we also might shed a tear when a social media post shows a small child overcoming a disability, it is important to reset our sense of heroes.
Every village, town, neighborhood in this world has everymen, everywomen who are down to earth, who do not make a splash, whom we might not notice often enough because where is the “star quality”? The answer is that these people are not there to be noticed.
They do their jobs like clockwork and are therefore essential. They are our support system.
The fellow who worked the flattop grill in the small hometown Massachusetts diner probably put together millions of eggs for the commuters’ breakfasts, offering chats as he fried and cooked in full sight just behind the counter. How many people felt satisfied after they left, bellies full but also the human touch felt?
Ah, the unsung. They are among us, thank the gods. The clerk in a store; the cop who walks the same beat and checks the store locks; the teacher erasing her white board as her class walks in; the repairman whom you’ve called through the years.
There are not Hollywood stars, not on reality shows, not in the news. But they are anchors in our lives as we sweat out bad days and sing along with the good ones.
The unnamed diner fellow, 66 years at the grill, was one of these angels.
The writer is a retired newspaperman. (firstname.lastname@example.org)