Rodney Powell, a restaurant regular who knows what he wants | Bleader

Rodney Powell, a restaurant regular who knows what he wants


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For the last 25 years or so, I've always eaten breakfast out. Since Salonica is on my walking path from where I live now to where I work at the University of Chicago, I have eaten breakfast there pretty much every day for the past 15 years. Habit is a large part of my existence.

I come early, very shortly after they open at seven. I always sit in the same booth. There are probably not more than five or six other customers. I am shy about talking to people, even though they're not really strangers, since I see many of them every day. The waiters all know me, and we're friendly, but we don't chat. They occasionally ask me if I want the usual, but most times, they just bring me what they know I want.

Weekdays I get a cheddar omelet with wheat toast, always with hash browns on the side, and coffee. And on weekends, I get scrambled eggs and bacon with toast. Fortunately it hasn't led to any health problems yet. For the past few months, I've been getting raisin toast on Sundays. Shouldn't Sunday be a treat day? I was getting really wild and crazy. When I'm out of town, I still eat out and read the newspaper, but I have something different. Eggs over easy rather than scrambled eggs, and sausage rather than bacon. Big changes like that.

I usually have a very small lunch. This will sound strange, I expect, but there's a cheap lunch special at the Starbucks in the bookstore on campus, and I became accustomed to going there. For dinner, I usually cook something for myself. Stuff that's easy, like broiled meat and a steamed vegetable, occasionally with rice.

I have, very occasionally, gone to other places in Hyde Park for breakfast, but never for more than a day or two at the most. I've never thought of that as anything more than a brief dalliance. I don't feel bored. I would feel somewhat lost without my routine. It provides a structure that minimizes the number of choices I have to make, and makes it easier for me to concentrate on the things that are important to me—reading, listening to music, watching movies, doing some research in the library.

I don't really worry about seeking out other people. I don't think I'm surly or unfriendly; I just don't particularly feel the need to invite conversation unless I'm with a group of people I already know well. One time, I was pretty sick for almost two weeks and I didn't go to Salonica. They said they were worried because I had not been there for so long. That was very nice of them.

If I am able to retire, and have the financial wherewithal to continue to do this, I expect that I will. This is an odd way to phrase it, but I would not be unhappy to continue an existence that's similar to what I have now.

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