If working from home sounds like a dream, you haven’t tried it. About six years ago, the Recession forced me to give up my shabby office on Marion Street and retreat to a spare bedroom. I immediately felt isolated. I missed bantering with co-workers and building mates. I missed my Chinese restaurant down the street and my bakery, where I bought emergency soup and a slice of bread. I even missed the second-story view through my grimy windows. 

So I decided to do something to improve my situation. I put out an SOS to other homebound workers to see if anyone wanted to meet me for lunch. Two brave women showed up at Amelia’s and we got off to a pleasant start. We decided to meet once a month for lunch at a Forest Park eatery. Our group grew and I looked forward to our gatherings. We called ourselves “The Homies.”

Over the years, we lost our charter members and gained new ones. We had some one-timers. One of our Homies even went to heaven. It was not only stimulating to share lunch, we felt good about supporting local businesses. We networked about job openings. Exchanged tips about the best auto mechanics and contractors. Invited each other to events. We also discussed the food at local restaurants, before choosing our next meeting place.

We never missed a month. I was proud of our little group. Eventually, our starting lineup became set. Few surprise Homies showed up. Still, we shared a bond: Homies don’t have to wake up early; Homies don’t have to get dressed up or care about their appearance; Homies don’t have to commute. 

Homies also have to battle to stay motivated and not be detoured by distractions. 

Finally, though, it happened. A few months ago, I was the only one who could make it to lunch. Standing alone in the restaurant, I was a Homey — singular. This isn’t what I signed up for. So our group of regulars recommended an outreach to other homebound Forest Parkers. We decided to keep our lunch time the same, the second Wednesday of the month, at 1 p.m., and shake up the starting lineup with some new faces. 

So, assuming there are more brave Forest Parkers out there who miss having human companionship in their workplace, you’re welcome to join the Homies for our next lunch. We’re meeting at Yum Thai on Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. The restaurant is one of the oldest Thai restaurants in the area and is located at 7748 W. Madison.

It was a fortunate choice I found out, when I stopped in to give a heads-up. The owner, Vicky, bought Yum Thai in 2014. She had previously worked there part-time in 1994, while pursuing her degree from Concordia University. When she took over, Vicky resurrected her mom’s recipes and revamped the menu. She draws loyal customers locally and from the far western suburbs. 

If you’d like to join us, you’re more than welcome. We rarely discuss religion, or kids. We do discuss national politics but find the local political scene even more fascinating. Plus, Vicky promised to make us something special. 

It’s got to be better than this ham sandwich I’m staring at. 

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.