If you ever take a road trip out west you’ll likely find a place in the middle of nowhere. A few hundred miles past nowhere, you’ll find the diner.
You’ll know which one I mean because it’s the only roadside stop without any signs telling you it’s coming up. It has a faded blue arrow with the remnants of the name, and the ‘n’ and ‘r’ are both hanging diagonally. It sounds ironic, but it’s a warning.
Do not eat at this diner.
It’s next to a nondescript gas station that’s cash-only and full service, but once you park you’re welcome to head on inside. Entering is fine. Drinking the coffee is fine, too – it’s actually pretty good. But take it black. No cream, no sugar.
Betty – the waitress you’ll get will always be named Betty, according to her tag – will read off a short list of specials while she pours you a mug. The list will end as soon as she finishes. Her pace of speech will not change, so the number of details depends on how many people you entered with. This is only one of many distractions.
The hotcake special will sound like a great deal, and you will constantly smell frying bacon and maple syrup. I repeat: do not eat anything at this diner. I don’t care how hungry you are.
Any and all questions will be expertly dodged. “How long until we hit highway #X?” will get you a reminder about the pie of the day. It will always be your favorite pie. If you don’t like pie, it will be brownies, or lemon bars, or whatever other dessert you most prefer.
If you have a second cup of coffee, Betty will bring by the dessert on the house with a spoon for each person at the table.
Do not eat at this diner.
I should mention the tea is also safe to drink, as is the water so long as you ask for it without ice. Betty will bring the water with ice but will get you the alternative if you correct her. As with the coffee, do not add anything if you choose to drink tea. This includes the lemon wedge.
You car will be ready as soon as the last person in your group is finished drinking their beverage or returns from the restroom. There will be complimentary mints with the check – do not eat them. Betty will give you the dessert in a to-go box. You may take it, but do not, under any circumstances, open the box until you reach the next state line. The state is not always the same for each journey.
Should anyone you know make any mistakes, do not correct them. It’s too late. Proceed as normally as possible – they may comment on how good things taste. They’re not lying. They will not get up to leave with you. They are part of the diner now.
Have a nice trip.