It was a Thursday night in Salt Lake City and the line was out the door. As we approached, a sign became visible.

“All patrons will be carded”

It was a burgers and beer kind of place.

“How many in your party?”


“Are you all at least twenty one?”

“Wait, what? No.”

“Then you can’t come in.”

At this point we split up into groups of six and four, over and under twenty one, respectively. As the kids group, myself included, forged on to find a new dinner locale, a nearby restaurant was suggested.

“Are the four of you twenty one?”


“Then I can’t serve you. State law.”

What the heck Utah. Do you want us to starve?

It’s been an hour, and we’ve walked a mile and a half our quest. We tried one more spot, and we’re promptly kicked out because of our youthfulness.

We then became three; one leaving to go on a solo search for food.

Sitting on the curb, searching Google and Yelp for anything edible in the vicinity, my spirits were low, and I too went on alone, leaving the two remaining to figure it out on their own.

I was not entirely sure where I was headed, but had Cheesecake Factory stuck in my head because I had passed it earlier in the day while sightseeing. It was more of a joke than an option.

I passed a bus stop with a rather forlorn looking fellow standing nearby it.

“Would you be able to spare a dollar for bus fare?”

Yes, but am I going to give a total stranger some money? What if he’s just going to use it to buy drugs? What help would I be doing him then? Well…

“Here’s a dollar.”

What he does with it isn’t my problem. Maybe I just made his day a little bit better. Helping people feels good, especially after being kicked out of a handful of establishments for doing nothing other than not being a certain age.

I walked on and didn’t think about it anymore. I felt a little more jolly though.

Then, without realizing it, I was at the door of the very restaurant that I was joking about: Cheesecake Factory. Everything else was either closed or didn’t welcome youth, so I made my way in.

I was surrounded by people who looked like they walked out of a J.Crew advertisement, and here I was, in a semi clean sweatshirt, rolled up jeans, and and sandals.

“How many sir?”

I hold up my pointer finger.


I’m handed a buzzer.

“That’ll be about a twenty minute wait.”

“Thank you.”

Leaning against a wall, floods of semi formally dressed people flood in and out or the eatery. Many in line after me were seated ahead of me, but I just waited contently for my turn.

It was now eight’o'clock and my phone rings.

“Do you want a ride back to the stay over?”

“Uh, no… I haven’t eaten yet.”

Soon after, and forty five minutes after check in, I am finally on my way to a seat. My table for one.

“How has your night been so far?” The hostess asked as she leads me to my seat.

“A little rough to tell you the truth.”

“Hopefully some cheesecake can fix that.”

I snicker a little bit, part because her comment was funny, and part because I was exhausted and hungry.

I’m lead past rows upon rows of families and friends, then outside and to the farthest corner from the entrance, at a table with two chairs and one set of silverware.

“Your server will be with you shortly.”

“Awesome. Thank you.”

My server arrives promptly, I order, and he’s gone as quickly as he arrived. I spend the next twenty minutes or so staring at windy Salt Lake City streets in front of me. In the mean time, complimentary bread, my drink, and my food arrive, at my table for one.

Pro tip: when at a semi fancy restaurant alone, and they provide complimentary bread, you get to eat it all by yourself.

That small tidbit made my night that much better.

With nothing but my thoughts and a giant burger to keep me company, I had a chance to mentally catch up with myself. The past couple of weeks have whipped by like a tornado riding a roller coaster, and the time spent at my table for one was incredibly valuable.

By the time I was on my way out, it was nine’o'clock, I was beyond full of good food, and I had two miles to walk to get back to the stay over.

The only thing left to do was go to bed, wake up, and keep on riding across this great country.

Comments (2)
  • MaryBeth Ramsey says:

    Remember you were not alone even at your table for one. Parents, fellow riders, former riders, survivors, researchers, family members, and even 5 little boys from Illinois were with you all. Beautifully written. Beautifully ridden. Connor’s mom

  • Jim Bogue says:


    Your story was very interesting.

    Keep riding.

    You and your group are in my daily prayers.



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