Feb. 15, 1996
The first job I had was at Buzzy's Diner, located in a small suburban town in
upstate New York. It isn't a classy restaurant, it isn't even a very clean one, but during the
hours that its open in the morning it is probably the busiest place within fifteen miles.
Although the food there is inexpensive and very good, the main reason people eat their
lunch and breakfast there is because of the diner's cozy atmosphere and timeless quality.
The diner is in a building that is about 65 years old and when you first walk in and
take a seat, it seems like you just traveled backwards in time. Along one side of the
dining area there is a counter with stools where people who come there by themselves go
to eat and read the newspaper. The tables and the countertop are an off-white color
underneath a pattern of random gray lines that looks like shattered glass. The seats for
the tables are dark wooden benches, many of them are dented and scratched from their
years of use. In one corner there is an ancient cigarette machine (the kind with levers you
have to pull to get your cigarettes) and an old fashioned penny gumball machine.
The walls of the room are divided horizontally by molding. The bottom four feet
of the walls consist of wood paneling that matches the benches. The top half is covered
with an ugly brown wallpaper that reminds me of the wallpaper in my grandmother's
house. The wallpaper usually goes unnoticed because most of it is covered up with other
stuff. Hanging on the wall behind the counter there is a collection of old frying pans and
various outdated wooden cooking utensils. On the other walls there are mirrors, wildlife
sketches, black and white photographs of the diner from when it first opened 40 years
ago, and plagues that the owner received from the local volunteer fire department. Except
for the mirrors, there is a story behind everything that is hanging on the walls. Usually
any bare spots on the walls are occupied by postings of upcoming town events like craft
shows or school concerts.
Near the top of the back wall, there is a shelf that stretches aross the length of the
room. The shelf is filled with old, empty food cans with fading labels. Scattered in with
the cans are dusty liquor bottles of assorted colors, shapes, and sizes.
Most of the regulars that faithfully visit Buzzy's every day are older people in their
60's and 70's. They usually arrive early in the morning or just after the main rush to avoid
the crowds. For some of them, stopping by Buzzy's has probably been a part of their daily
routine for fifteen years. They all know everyone in the diner and they come to see each
other and have a friendly conversation. As they take their time drinking their coffee and
telling jokes or stories from when they were younger, you can tell that this is one of the
highlights of their days. Some of them were good friends of the owner's father, "Buzzy"
Oley, and the place brings back a lot of memories to them. For a lot of people, Buzzy's is
a part of the changing world that seems to remain unaffected by time.
Older people are not the only people who come to Buzzy's and socialize with each
other. Every weekend there are countless numbers of people saying "Hi, nice seeing you
again," and "What a surprise to see you here." from the not so frequent visitors. The
atmosphere of the diner is warm and relaxing. During the winter months it is like a haven
from the freezing, snowy weather in upstate NY. Even during the busy hours, when the
waitresses are running around frantically and there are twenty conversations going on at
once, there is a kind of tranquillity about the place. In the air there is the aroma of fresh
brewed coffee, mixed with the smell of cheese omelets, bacon and sausage. There is
smoke coming from someone's cigarette, but by the time it's odor reaches the non-
smoking section, it is too faint to bother anyone. You can almost always hear someone
laughing and see that most of the people around you are enjoying themselves.
Buzzy's is a perfect place for families to eat breakfast after church, and for people
to have a cup of coffee before work or school. There are many reasons people are
attracted to a small diner like Buzzy's. Some go to socialize with their neighbors, some
go to rekindle memories of their youth, and some go for quality, inexpensive food.
Buzzy's is a relaxing place where everyone can go to escape from their hectic lives.