What happened to the regulars?
When I say “regulars” I mean people you see all the time at a particular place. How well you know them varies but I always wonder just what happened to that “regular” that is no longer there! I wonder that when I pass a coffee shop, restaurant, market, ball field at a neighborhood park, transit stop or the neighborhood bar.
When you were a kid on summer vacation you had spots where you gathered all the time with others and like they used to say on Cheers; “everybody knew your name!” The end of summer often meant that by the time next summer rolled around many of the “regulars” who you probably knew well would be gone. They possibly could have moved, met new friends, found new places to hang out or simply got tired of the same old routine. Odds are some would disappear never to be heard from again!
Later in high school or college some hangouts were continually populated by the same crowd, the same “regulars”. There was usually one hot spot around which many social lives revolved. Up until that time you usually knew the “regulars” quite well because you either went to school with them, lived by them or knew their families. However, once schooling was over and life turned into earning a livable wage less time was spent hanging out with the same “regulars” although there were still the restaurants, taverns and social events where “regulars” gathered. At that point major changes took place in many peoples lives and re-location for jobs or family was quite common, more so if you lived in a small town. You know the old saying; “you can’t keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen the big city.”
So actually the number of “regulars” you’ve known in various degrees over the years has grown depending on how old you are, yet nobody ever seems to know where they went when they aren’t around anymore. You hear rumors about so and so but unless it’s a real friend and acquaintance you might never know! The places are still there, but there are new “regulars” and how long will they be “regulars”?
I remember riding the city bus to and from work five days a week and the morning bus ride had many “regulars”. The evening ride had its set of “regulars” also but less than in the morning. Well, over the course of the year we would politely nod to one another, but other than that there was really very little interaction although we saw each other every day rain or shine, Christmas season and summer time. Occasionally a “regular” would fail to show and after a few days you knew they weren’t coming back. Nobody ever seemed to know where they went and since we were just bus riding acquaintances no one asked a lot of questions. Then one day out of the blue I got transferred to a different part of the city and the next day I no longer rode that bus. It seemed odd on my new bus because I was the new kid in town and didn’t recognize anyone; no “regulars”.
Eventually I got a car and the bus was no longer necessary and I totally lost my “regular” status which I hadn’t realized I had until one day at a store I recognized a woman from my first group of bus “regulars.” She came up to me and smiled; “well it is nice to see you, it’s always odd when a “regular” disappears so I’m glad to see you’re okay.”
So I guess I can answer my own question; this “regular” had merely changed buses, something I imagine a lot of the “regulars” I’ve been wondering about have also done!
To reach Rick Schultze email: email@example.com