My truly cynical side constantly wonders if all the layoffs everywhere are really attributable to tough times rather than craven acts undertaken under cover of “everybody’s doing it.” Certainly the news is mixed on the food front, where restaurants should be folding like towels rather than warding off hordes of patrons (tried to get into the West Branch recently?) The other day two encounters reinforced both suspicions. The first was in a busy overpriced food market where the manager of a restaurant-related shop that would seem to be one of the first to bend over and grab its ankles in this economy is actually doing quite well (I’d name it, but even he said he was afraid he was jinxing a good run). Then I moved on to my lunch in a cozy little place that was packed just after 2. At the next table a 40-something guy was talk-talk-talking at a woman whom I presumed to be his mother; I tried to tune them out but could not overhearing: Tuition issues, teenagers’ weight issues, “I haven’t calculated how much the Cobra is going to cost but think have enough to get by for a year,” while older woman interrupts her silence only to complain that the filling in her taco is more fat than meat “and it’s never been like that before” and then to ask TTTer: “What about that story in the paper today, about people suing over being laid-off?” Yikes. They departed with him saying he was going home to curl up in a ball, her complaining that her soup was on the check as “special appetizer” and was “the most expensive thing on the bill.” Times are tough, but at least people can go out to eat rather than slurp soup in silence at home. Special of the day? TMI.