© Verena Matthew |

Imagine driving down an unfamiliar road, tired and perhaps hungry and looking for a place to stop for a bit. Signs along the road reach out to invite you to refuel, or to see Pedro at South of the Border, or to be welcomed by the state you’ve just entered. Paralyzed by indecision, you just drive on.

Then you see it

It’s a big red Diner sign. It’s so large you have time to give it a longer look, even as you approach it at (honestly officer) only 65 miles an hour. You notice that it’s been there a long time, probably since your parents drove this road with you standing on the back seat, because the red paint is blistered and peeling. It feels somehow comforting. You imagine that the food there is likely to be good but not fancy, the service friendly and down-to-earth. Someone will probably call you Sweetheart. There will likely be a number of locals there chatting amiably because they see each other there all the time, and you wonder how they will feel about this passerby walking in the door. You feel a moment of self-doubt, and think of continuing to the next bland, billions served fast food chain you see.

Then you look again at the big red sign as it looms larger…and take your foot off the gas to ease onto the exit.