WILSON: Breakfast of social distancers

It was all over the news, the one and only topic on every TV channel, radio station, Facebook post and internet search engine. For days, and weeks, and months…breathless reporters, bloggersand internet busy bodies urged folks to stay at home and wash their hands. This battle could be won if everyone fought together — with clean hands, and at a distance no closer than 6 feet.

The rules changed for everyone. Morning meetings of the Circular Congregation Breakfast Club were outlawed. Overnight, the cherished act of gathering together, breaking bread and sharing solutions to the problems of the world was banned, criminalized and finger-wagged at by the powers that be. The big, round, simulated oak table in the middle of Sarah’s Diner was closed until further notice, and no one knew when further notice was going to arrive.

At least, that was the way the rules were originally translated. Unwilling to agree to the economic terms offered by the business consulting firm of Quarantine, Isolate, and Stayathome, Sarah decided that a new business strategy was in order. Let’s be honest, there are more than a few folks in this world that are not going to compete in television cooking competitions.

Without the down-home cooking from places like Sarah’s Diner, a frozen dinner and a bag of Oreos are their best options. Sarah figured if she could no longer invite patrons to enjoy a delicious meal served at a table, she would serve those delicious meals at her front door.

She posted a simple sign, “Getting Hungry? Call Sarah!” Word spread fast. Folks would call in their order, show up, and drive home with a delicious meal (to be enjoyed after a thorough hand washing).

Tommy Jones, the 82-year-old senior member of the Circular Congregation Breakfast club, lived in a second-floor apartment above the taxidermy shop, directly across the street from the diner. He was the first to take advantage of Sarah’s new business model.

By the time he put on his shoes and socks, grabbed his light jacket off the coat hook, walked down the flight of stairs to the street, walked a half-block to the corner, crossed the street at the light, then walked back the half-block to Sarah’s Diner, Tommy’s breakfast of fruit, bran muffin, and hot coffee with cream and two sugars was boxed up and ready.

After the return trip, Tommy sat at his small dining table in the front window of his petite abode. From this perch, Tommy savored his breakfast and watched the emptiness of the once busy street.

On the second morning, Harrison Winkle was already tired of the too few ways he knew to scramble eggs. Harry was craving some of Sarah’s biscuits and gravy and heard the rumor she was open for carry-out. One phone call and a mile and a half drive later, he was walking back to his car with the aroma of sausage gravy calling his name. Actually, it was Tommy Jones calling Harry’s name from the open window, across the street. The two friends chatted as Tommy sat at his table and enjoyed his honeydew and pineapple, while Harry leaned against a no parking sign and worked a plastic fork through his flaky biscuits.

The third day, Harry brought a folding table and chair, and set it up on the sidewalk in line with Tommy’s open window. He tipped Sarah and took his to-go order of ham and cheese omelet over to the table and chair. From this safe social-distance, two of the members of the Circular Congregation Breakfast club, enjoyed their breakfast together.

By the fourth day, Jimmy was all out of Bob Evans microwavable breakfast bowls. A quick call to Sarah, a brisk three block walk, and Jimmy was leaning against the light post, eating his pancakes and sausage links, and carrying on a breakfast conversation with Tommy and Harry.

By the sixth morning, the Social Distancing Congregational Breakfast Club included Tommy at his window, Harry sitting at a folding table directly across the street (and 6’ away from the diner’s front door), Jimmy leaning against the light post, Firewalker using his tailgate as a table, Arnold Tobin and Mort reclining in a zero gravity lawn chairs (but on opposite sides of the street), and Big John Hudson sitting in the passenger seat of his pick-up with the door open to the sidewalk.

The rules may have changed, but Sarah and the Breakfast Club found a way.