Mark Johnson
6 min readMay 27, 2021

He sat at his booth in the diner, barely touching his food. He was sunken down, looking out the window and scrolling through a conversation of texts on his phone. From looking at him, you could tell there was something wrong. It wasn’t like him not to touch the food. He loved cheeseburgers. Yet there he sat like the loneliest man in the world, having a tough day.

It started from the moment he got up, running late for work and banging his foot on the end of his bed. He then proceeded only to get caught up in traffic and be even later. As the day progressed at lunch, looking for a pick me up, he got a hot coffee only to spill on himself to which he still wore the stain that fervently would not wash out before a group meeting where it was him giving a brief update on the accounts he was working. Without a blazer on hand, he gave the talk looking like a bum.

Later on, that day, as if the day for him couldn’t have gotten any worse, Shelly, a woman he had taken on a few dates from the same office he worked, cornered him to let him know she was going back to Melvin and give it another try. With the day going as it was, he wasn’t surprised it happened; he knew not to mess with her; she didn’t know what she wanted. Yet he asked her out in the back of his mind thinking if they got focused, he’d have something to flaunt in Melvin’s face. Melvin was the guy everyone hated. The guy born with a silver spoon in his mouth, good-looking, with no real sense of the world unless it revolved around him. So good ridden to that he felt let her be Melvin’s problem.

As the day wound down on another work week and it was reaching the end of the day. Everyone was talking about his or her plans for the weekend. He was looking for some way to get himself out of this funk. He started scrolling through his contacts, looking for friends to hang out with, when he came upon a text conversation that stopped him cold.

He needed something to lift his spirits and decided to treat himself to a meal. It had to be something special his favorite meal was a Cheeseburger and steak cut fries. With that in mind, he went to the best place in town for just that. This joint he was heading to stacked the cheese on the patty as it finished grilling and that the cheese would melt to perfection and become super gooey, and in the places where the cheese would melt down the sides onto the grill, it would be a crunchy masterpiece.

His mouth watered as he thought about it on the way over. He pulled up into the parking lot to find the placed closed for renovations. That is practically the final straw. A powerful slap in the face. “Can this day fuckin’ end already!” he exclaimed. A transient man shopping in a dumpster nearby yelled at him to keep the racket down. Defeated even in the ability to cheer him up and have to vent his frustrations, he got back in his car and drove around to partly clear his mind and look for another cheeseburger he could dine on.

He recalled the back and forth text messages from a contact named Charity the Redhead in the back of his mind. Finally, he decided on a standard diner that advertised they had a “fantastic” cheeseburger. He pulled into their parking lot and went inside. He’d expect it to be busier than it was, but it was practically empty. He decided to stay weary from his catastrophe of a day. He just wanted some reprieve and the cheeseburger, steak fries, and a beer.

An older redheaded waitress with a gruff voice met him. She showed him to a booth that had a great view of the main street he pulled off. She offered him a menu to which he refused commenting; he wanted the “fantastic” cheeseburger that he saw advertised in the window. She seemed to know what he was talking about and then asked him what he wanted to drink? “Can I get a beer?” She nodded and gave a shortlist of what they had available. He made his selection, and she left to place his order.

A brief moment later, she came back with a bottle of some brand, but not what he asked for. “Sorry, we were out of everything else. Will this do?” she questioned him. Understanding this as the day he was living, he settled with the selection. He popped the top and took the first sip, and disappointment read all over his face.

In the process of a long day that had tested his strength, he took a minute to relax. He sat at the table, eyes closed, and began to breathe. He was taking in a breath and letting it out. He was trying to meditate and clear out all the negative mojo accumulated from the day where nothing was going right. A thought his meditating mind focused on was hoping that cheeseburger would or could be up to the standards he was used to as it would help even out the heck of a day he was already having.

He took a look at the order of cooks on the line, wondering if he could decipher from their expressions how this cheeseburger was going to turn out. He continued to wait to flip through the text conversation that had been taking up brain space since leaving the office. As he looked up from his phone for a moment, he saw his older waitress walking in his direction. She had a smile on her face and what looked like a cheeseburger and steak fries on a serving tray.

She placed the plate on the table in front of him. Visually appetizing, but he wasn’t going to say anything till he got a bite. He took a bite, and it wasn’t as bad as the beer, but it was in no way tremendous or the touch he needed to get out of this funk. He sat back, picking at the food on his plate till eventually, he decided it was time to call it a day. You can’t win them all, he thought. He paid his check and walked out.

He got in his car and just drove around his town, watching couples on a date night and having fun. He drove as if he was searching for something when he pulled into an open lot to sightsee. He watched the lights, the cars driving by, and the people out on a Friday night. He thought to himself; life wasn’t treating him well that day. Looking at the coffee stain on his shirt, he sat on the bumper and hood of his car and just watched the world go by.

If he were honest, the day would be ok if he just had someone to share the mess of a day living through it, and they’d let him know he was ok. He looked at his phone. The text conversation he had been going through all day with Charity, the redhead’s contact name, stayed in his conscious. The look on his face told more of the story behind the texts. He eventually found the nerve to make the call. The phone rang a few times till there was a pickup on the other end. “Hello,” a sweet voice answered. “Hey Charity, this is Alex,” he replied, reserved.

“Oh, hey Alex, how have you been?”

“I’m alright. I’ve had better days.”

“I’m glad you called. What are you up to?”

“I was just about to ask you; it’s just been a long day.”



Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.