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The Next "Come From Away"? My Car Broke Down in a Denny's Parking Lot and They Let Me Use The Phone

by Zach Raffio. @zachraffio.

Nashua, NH - Look out Broadway - there might just be a new feel-good show about welcoming strangers in need.


If you love Come From Away, which tells the true story of the Canadian town of Gander and their welcoming of over 7,000 stranded strangers on 9/11, you’ll love the fact that a Denny’s nearby let me use their phone after I totally whiffed my 2006 Ford Escape in the parking lot this weekend.


Much like housing, feeding and comforting thousands of people during the largest terror attack on American soil in history, when I stumbled into the Denny’s and told them about how I totally boofed my ride by trying to do a wheelie in it for TikTok and also cracked my phone, they couldn’t have been warmer.


“You tried to do a wheelie in a car? What the fuck is wrong with you?” was of course the first question from Harriet, the young hostess who taught me a new form of compassion and acceptance. “You can use the phone real quick but don’t be weird,” she added while signaling a few waiters to keep an eye on me. 


This. Is. Progress.


“Why do you have so many Dunkaroo wrappers in the car?” asked one of the busboys as he took a look at my completely hoonked back fender. He wanted to know more about me - where I came from, what are the stones that build my culture, why I have every Hanson album on CD but no CD drive. These are the questions that heal.


I waited at the Denny’s for several hours with the staff constantly bringing me water refills and complimentary rye toast, only occasionally asking me to stop trying to record a mixtape on my iPod Nano, which Harriet keeps pointing out “doesn’t even have a microphone.” I’ve learned so much from her. 


There were no budding romances or relationships in peril like in Come From Away, but I think I saw my ex Heather having breakfast with her kids? I don’t know, might not have been her.


Around closing time, they finally ask me: “Is the ride you called almost here?”


That’s when I realize I never told them that I used the phone to call into a local radio station to win tickets to a local wrestling tournament. I didn’t win, but in many ways, I did.


Harriett and the gang start yelling at me, but hey, we’re all human and passions run wild.


Eventually I called my buddy Marinara Ben (sick nickname, will explain later) and he picked me up and had my car towed, since it was fully and utterly doobed. The Denny’s staff told me never to come back, and I probably won’t - but in many ways, I don’t think I’ll ever leave. 


So, sorry Come From Away - may as well put up that closing notice, or at the very least, rename the show Marinara Ben From Away. It’s the right thing to do.