We received sad news today. One of our regular customers, Dan Paulus, died suddenly and unexpectedly while visiting friends in North Carolina last week. He had recently celebrated his 50th birthday.
Dan grew up in Port Huron, the youngest of ten children. In 1985 he suffered a head injury in a car accident that left him permanently disabled. We got to know him because he and his friend, Mary, would come in for lunch every week, including last week, only a few days before Dan’s death. Dan was full of life and energy. And humor and sarcasm. He loved to give us a hard time, especially John and Alfredo. In talking with Mary, I learned that despite his disability, Dan insisted on living independently. He had an apartment over by Busch’s on Ann Arbor-Saline Road.
Mary was nice enough to drop by the restaurant and tell us of this sad news. She said how much Dan looked forward to eating at Satchel’s and visiting with everyone here. It was nice to hear. The restaurant felt sad and lonely for the rest of the day.
Because we treat customers like guests who come into our home for a meal, we do more than simply feed them. We get to know them a bit, especially the regulars. We have these encounters, these conversations, with folks every day. We talk and joke, in part because it is good business, in part because it makes the time pass easier, and in part because it’s fun. What we may not always realize is that we become tethered to our regular customers, somehow connected in a strange, unusual way. Despite knowing very little about each other, there is genuine warmth and friendship in the encounter. It is a testament to the power of food, eating and community. It brings us together. And it is a wonderful privilege to work in such an environment each and every day. Dan’s passing reminds us that this privilege brings with it the possibility of loss and sorrow. So be it. Dan was worth it.