For five years we have been coming to this donut shop, and never once have the staff said anything besides the minimum required to fill our order and take our money. (click pic to enlarge)
Last Saturday began a new era.
We almost always eat in. The automatic doorbell barely has time to finish announcing our arrival before Benjamin slides open the refrigerated case on the left. Despite what other children in line may hold, he ignores the chocolate and strawberry milks, the Power Ade, and the soft drinks, to grab a plain white milk.
Because it’s the weekend, I let him choose between whole and 2%.
Then he walks over to the donuts under glass and points at the delicious dough concoction that tickles his fancy that day. One of the nice young ladies behind the counter crouches or leans down and points.
“This one?” she says in a thick Korean accent.
He confirms and I choose a glazed cinnamon twist while Benjamin makes his way to a barstool on the wall opposite the cold drinks — our usual spot. I carry the treats on bright, flowery plates and sit on the barstool’s cracked black vinyl.
This is the part where we usually eat in peace, completely in our own father-son world, occasionally trading bites of each other’s dough. Benjamin gazes around the room as he chews, and as I turn to see what he sees, one of the staffers behind the counter speaks.
“How old are you?” she asks Ben, her smile baring what I’m sure are teeth under all those braces.
She looks pleasantly surprised. “Seven. Wow.”
“Yep, we started coming here when he was two. Can you believe it?” I say. I leave out the part where we tried other donut shops that opened in the intervening years.
“No, that is a long time.” She looks back at Benjamin. “You are getting big.”
“I know,” Benjamin says, in the starkly honest way that only small children can. He spins back around on his barstool and picks up his milk for another sip.
The automatic doorbell signals the next guest’s arrival. The girl flashes another silvery smile and then turns to greet the new arrival. “G’morneeng,” she says.
She had broken the awkward silence I had imposed upon myself with an uncharacteristically risky query a few years ago. Maybe I’ll finally get the nerve to ask for an interview with her and her family.