I’m a natural busybody. My tendency to chat up complete strangers drives Studly Doright crazy. He’s something of a misanthrope and I’m whatever the opposite of a misanthrope is. A posithrope?
When I’m on a solo journey as I have been these past couple of days I indulge my urge to make polite conversation with fellow diners and shoppers.
This morning I had breakfast at a Panera Bread adjacent to my hotel in Paducah, Kentucky. The place was hopping, but I couldn’t help but notice an older gentleman at the counter with his perhaps 9-year-old grandson.
The man was obviously a regular there–everyone knew him by name–and he was proudly introducing the little boy who was visiting from Ohio.
The two of them ordered ahead of me and took a seat at a large table, joining three other men. Once I had my wonderful cinnamon crunch bagel and creme cheese (oh my heavens!) I found a seat near this group.
Surreptitiously I listened in on the good natured ribbing, noticing that the grownups included the little boy, especially giving him a hard time about his Cincinnati Reds. As I ate and pretended to read a newspaper I realized the men were part of a regular men’s coffee group, casually solving the world’s problems from a their corner at Panera Bread.
I remembered my own days of sitting with my Grandaddy and his coffee group at various cafes in Floydada and Lockney, Texas. Sweet nostalgia overtook me, so of course I had to say something.
As I left I stopped by the table surrounded by these older men and told the grandfather how having coffee with my own granddaddy during my childhood had made an impact on me. “Those were the best days of my life,” I said.
He smiled and patted me on the hand. I had to leave before I started to cry.
This morning I set out from Doright Manor near Tallahassee, Florida, on a trip to see my daughter and her family in Illinois. I’ll tally over a thousand miles on the trip to Illinois, necessitating an overnight stop.
Right now I’m relaxing in my hotel room in Paducah, Kentucky. Paducah is a pleasant community, home of the National Quilt Museum and a terrific arts and antiques district. On this trip, though, I’m only seeing the inside of my room.
Friends and family wondered why I decided to drive rather than fly, and to be honest a couple of hundred miles back I was wondering the same thing. Driving all day in sometimes brutal interstate highway traffic has every muscle in my body wound tightly and in desperate need of a massage.
In spite of that I enjoy driving when I have the time. It gives me a sense of control that flying doesn’t. I have my own car at my disposal instead of needing to rent or commandeer one at my destination.
Early on this morning I promised myself I would resist the impulse to load up on junk foods and diet sodas during my journey. In fact, I decided I’d stick to healthy foods only.
That promise lasted for approximately an hour into my drive when I stopped to use the ladies room at a Burger King and exited the establishment with a large diet Dr. Pepper and a cinnamon roll.
It all went downhill from there, but I do think there might’ve been a carrot or two in my Mexican food dinner. The lime in the Corona Light I had an hour ago was most likely the healthiest part of my day. Note to self: must do better tomorrow.
Paducah is more than half way to my daughter’s home, and there aren’t any major metropolitan areas between here and there. If I get up early I can be there by early afternoon. And tomorrow, I’m eating healthy! Although, I think there’s a Krispy Kreme on my route….