My first vacation morning, I headed for a coffee shop with my laptop to do some writing. The shop was cozy and welcoming and … louder than any Panera where I’ve ever set up shop. (I was far from Panera/Starbucks country.) Everything started well until “Dorothy” came and settled in a couple tables away and then, for the next two hours I heard this …

“Oh, Carrie (the clerk) how’s it going for you? How’s your son? Did I tell you that Amy is having a lot of problems? Last night she couldn’t sleep, so I went over. Madge should’ve been there, but she went up to Milwaukee to visit the dermatologist. Oh, I should call my son and tell him to wake up my husband. My husband is a dear, sweet man. He was up late working last night — Greg, could you go in and wake Dad? Do it gently. He had a hard night. Tell him we have an appointment to check out that house over in Woodruff –  Oh, sir. You need a newspaper? They have newspapers here. Carrie, where are the papers? They haven’t come yet? Sir, I’ll walk over to the liquor store for you. They have papers there. – Hello, Betty. Right we were going over later this morning? Is that still a good time? Carrie, you shouldn’t let your husband have custody of your son. You’re doing the right thing. You’re working hard and … Did I tell you how much trouble Amy is having?

If I were writing a book about small town living, I could’ve written down Dorothy’s monologue verbatim and had my text!

So, I left and headed over to the park. The sun was now high in the sky, so I sat at a picnic table and worked. Later, that afternoon, I was still sitting outside (but not at the park) in the beautiful sunshine as the kids arrived home.

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