I bought Paul breakfast for his service to our country.
Instant Karma (of the Good Kind)
They are found everywhere in America, from metropolises to tiny burgs and all the places in-between.
I’ve collectively nicknamed these bands of men the “early a.m. coffee klatches.” They can be found in our nation’s cafés, diners, McDonald’s, and gas stations. One can discover them wherever a cup of Joe is being poured. The one stipulation for making these sightings is to be a 0-dawn-thirty riser like me. With my early bird schedule, I am always on a collision course with these good natured, good ol’ boys.
Their caffeinated banter is centered on harmless jibes, local news and gossip, sports and bumper-sticker sized solutions to the problems or our nation and the world. I think of it as a live version of the “Today” show minus Rockefeller Center and Al Roker.
While traveling through the Northwest in the vicinity of Mount St. Helens National Monument, I was on a layover in Cougar, Wash. At 6 a.m. most of the lights in town were off (there weren’t many to begin with) except at the gas station. I pulled my camper van into the parking lot hoping for at least a cup of java and at best a breakfast. I was fortunate to score both and an animated coffee klatch to boot.
After placing my breakfast order at the kitchen, I took a solo seat near the gaggle. As is my usual custom, I brought in a load of maps and hiking guides to help me figure out the day’s game plan. When my maps were spread all over the table, the local gent’s natural curiosity was piqued. A few came by to dispense advice on places to see and things to do. Most of the information was geared more toward ATV or equine travel than hiking, but I shook my head and smiled just the same. After a while they returned to their seats and their usual routine.
I went back to looking at my maps, eating and eavesdropping on their conversations.
From what I gathered they were a group of Army veterans spanning the years between the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War. One or two of the more vocal ones told war stories as if they were in a fox hole with bullets flying yesterday.
I finished my breakfast, collected my maps and made my way to the cash register. I stopped in front of their table and interrupted them for a moment.
“Thank you for your help on the local scene.” I allowed that to sink in before I added, “And thank you for your service to our country.”
With that I walked away.
A hush fell over the crowd before one of them piped up, “Wow! It would be nice to hear that more often.”
So in conclusion, thank a Vet. It won’t cost you a thin dime, and the payoff might be priceless.
Think of it as performing a random act of kindness in an often time not so kind world. It’s a win/win situation for all.