“Trucker’s Haven” by Sasha on the 41

Friday July 21, 2017
5 minutes
From the sign at the 401 on ramp

Got my first job when I was fourteen, but I lied and said I was seventeen. I was an early bloomer, might as well get something for that shit. Trucker’s Haven, off the 2? You know it? The food’s nothing to write home about, just your basics like burgers and fish fingers, okay milkshakes. I could actually go for one of those milkshakes right about now… The thing that it’s really known for is the jukebox, at the front of the restaurant. Only Dolly Parton. I kid you not. I know every Dolly Parton song because of it. Made for some great nights of karaoke.

“Destiny Number” by Sasha at Elysian on Broadway

Thursday January 19, 2017 at Elysian
5 minutes

You buy a car and drive across the country. You wear only your mother’s clothes, from the time before she knew you. Remember that that time existed, you say, under your breath like a rosary. You buy a car the colour of sunset and sand, wondering if chrome can chameleon. You paint your face with mud and forget. You go into a diner and order a mushroom omelette and extra crispy bacon. The waitress smiles at you. She knows where you’re coming from, and maybe even where you’re going. You eat with your hands.

“What? What’s wrong?” by Sasha in Cowichan Bay

Monday, March 28, 2016
5 minutes
From some sides

“What’s wrong with you, Loretta?”

Biddie is superstitious. She pours some salt from the shaker shaped like a chicken into her palm and tosses it over her shoulder.

They’ve been in this Highway Diner for what feels like seventeen years. Loretta can’t tell Biddie what’s wrong. It’s far too complicated.

“I’m just sad I didn’t get to say bye to Malcolm and Lilly… Especially with Lilly’s concert coming up. I’m just… sad.” Loretta wishes they hadn’t thrown their cellphones out the window while doing war-cries.

“They’ll forgive you, Lo. Promise.” Biddie eats a mouthful of flapjacks and a bit of syrup drips onto her chin.

“Watch your belongings” by Julia on the 505 going west

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
5 minutes
A sign in the Kitsilano Public Library

Tuck had been running back and forth to the toilet all morning. He felt like a train was plowing through his stomach since last night’s sushi. He knew he shouldn’t have finished it all after the first bite of tuna that smelled very close to the stuff he’d sometimes find underneath his toes. Tuck always smelled his toe jam. He couldn’t help it. He kind of liked it. But Tuck wasn’t big on waste, or health, or being an adult and ordering new food because that would take time and he was hungry as all hell. Every bite he ate he had to plug his nose so he wouldn’t taste the…funk of it. He ate every last morsel and it only took him 25 minutes for him to regret it. He could hear his mother’s shrill voice in his ear as he hunched over the can, preparing his guts for another roller coaster ride. “Don’t you want to enjoy your food, Tucker? What’s the point in eating if you refuse to even taste it!” He didn’t want to be thinking of her right now. It was hard enough having to ask a customer to watch the diner every 5 minutes so he could run to the bathroom and purge.

“I can’t leave people unattended inside with the doors closed” by Julia on the 506 going east

Saturday February 14, 2015
5 minutes
An explanation from the 506 TTC driver

It’s hard to think of him differently after all those years. I mean, hey, yeah, my dad spent the first half of my life as a cook in a greasy diner. He lived for that place. I don’t know anyone else who has been brought to tears over a perfectly poached egg, but he sure has. And sometimes it was hard, and sometimes we thought he was going insane as many kitchen people do, but at the end of the day, when he’d come home smelling like smoked meats and the deep frier, he’d have a smile on his face.
Then, all of a sudden, my dad decided he wanted to be a teacher. Just like that, no real discussion about it, just this is it, I used to cook in a diner and now I want to be responsible for educating the youth of this fine country. I had never seen my dad in a suit before, or anything other than an apron for that matter. We all wondered where a man with barely even a high school diploma would start.

“Is there sauce on that?” by Sasha at Thom and Shelagh’s kitchen table

Sunday, June 30, 2013
5 minutes
Overheard by Julia on Queen Street

I’m just wondering if you have any gluten free options? Rice based? No. No, I can’t have spelt, there’s gluten in that. I don’t have an allergy, per say, I have a, a, a intolerance. Don’t worry about it. And where is the salmon from? It’s farmed? Oh. Okay. Do you make your tomato sauce in-house? Is there sugar in it? Are the eggs free-range? Where do you get them from? You don’t know your source?! (Under her breath) Red flag. Okay. Hm. Do you fry in canola oil? Vegetable oil? Hmmm… (Sigh). What was that? That thing that just went by? Is there sauce on that? Is there cheese in the sauce? No, I like sauce, but I can’t have cheese. I’m not meaning to be difficult, I just, like, have a sensitive stomach, you know? Sorry. So tell me again, what were the gluten free options? The dairy-free/meat-free/gluten-free options? Fish is okay. No, it’s not an allergy. I don’t need an EpiPen, I just…

“criminal record” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday, January 13, 2013
5 minutes
TTC poster on the streetcar

He had a criminal record (multiple DUI’s and one “possession with the intent to sell”), a ponytail (black and coming midway down his back), a three-year-old daughter (Maddie), and three hundred and seventy two dollars in his bank account ($372.11, to be exact). He wrote songs on a ukelele and sang them in Spanish. He bit his nails down really low. When we met, he’d just lost custody of Maddie and the lawyer bills had put him thousands of dollars in debt. He was looking for a job. He came into the diner and handed me his resume. It was terrible, every line in different fonts, different sizes, no references to speak of… He asked for a glass of water “without ice”. Normally people looking for jobs, people like him, annoy the hell out of me. I don’t know. Something grabbed inside me, he grabbed something inside me. I told him to sit down, I gave him his glass of water and I told Don to make him a cheeseburger and fries.