Mike 2.0

Mike came back this week.

He’s been missing in action since the holidays, when he told me he was going in for surgery and wouldn’t be around for a while. Weeks turned into months, and the other morning I looked at my dwindling tea stash and thought, I wonder if Mike is doing okay.

“I have no way to check on him,” I said to my daughter as we prepped for the day’s lunch. “I don’t know his last name. What if his first name isn’t even ‘Mike’? What if he stole that name tag from someone and has been masquerading all this time? Maybe he’s a grifter.”

A vegan lunch grifter.

That was the day he showed up.

At his usual time, right after we opened, hoisting himself around on crutches.

“I just started driving again today,” he told me, and there was a lightness in his voice, in his face. He sat at a table near the kitchen, rather than in his usual spot near the door at the far end of the dining room. I brought him his plate. At the end of the meal, he gave me a box of tea in payment.

First day out driving, and this is where he came. That’s something, right there.