Earlier this week I was sitting in our local McDonald’s, as I do one morning each week while my daughter has Latin class at a nearby school. I might add here that in spite of never having taken Latin myself, I did, in fact, attempt to teach it to (or learn it with) my children a few years back. We’re all still laughing about that.
Anyway, as I’ve sat in this particular McDonald’s every week for an hour or so, I’ve come to know most of the employees and many of the regular customers.
One of the ladies who cooks in the back is Jane, a grandmother who goes to our church and who used to be my kids’ Sunday school teacher. She always calls out and waves from the kitchen.
The man who takes out the garbage, shovels snow off the front walk and sweeps the floors is Herbie, and he’s got to be well into his 70s. He always has a ready smile, white moustache twitching.
At that time of the morning, there are no teens working there; just moms, grandmas and grandpas.
The customers vary; parents with their kids heading off to school, people on their way to work, and the once-in-a-while cold-weather tourist.
But there is a group of regulars that never ceases to crack me up. It’s a group of about eight or nine retired men, mostly veterans from what I’ve surmised, which meets on the same morning each week. Sometimes their wives accompany them. They begin trickling in around 8:30, and by 9:00, coffee is being enjoyed, pancakes consumed, and fascinating conversations abound.
This silver-haired boys club talks about gardening ideas, politics, the war, their neighbors, and the many maladies that accompany the later years of life. They discuss the local TV news team, the town council meeting, and of course, snow removal. Mostly, they love to talk about “the weathah.” What self-respecting Mainer doesn’t?
This week, as I sat at my usual table by the window doing paper work, I only half-listened to their banter. Sometimes they are loud and I can’t help but listen, chuckling all the while; but more often than not, I just tune them out. On this morning, Herbie walked by and suddenly stopped at my table, with something clearly on his mind.
“Did you hear that?” he asked. I looked up blankly, lost in my work.
“Them,” he gestured back over his shoulder with his thumb toward the silver-haired guys who were in a heated conversation. “They’re givin’ up on the Red Sox!” he exclaimed in his thick Maine accent. “The Red Sox lose two games and they give up on them. Do you believe it? I had to set ‘em straight!”
Apparently I had just missed Herbie’s soft-spoken tirade directed at the group. Herbie was dead serious (I mean, this is the Red Sox we’re talking about) but he also had a big, toothy grin on his face and a sparkle in his eye.
Before I could give much of a response, Herbie wheeled around and headed back over to the guys, obviously encouraged and empowered by his helpful talk with me.
You know, if it weren’t still so chilly outside, I would swear I was in Mayberry. I just love these people.
Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes