I walked up to the counter at the fast food restaurant in the foreign town in the heart of Eastern Oregon and prepared to order an iced coffee.
There were no quaint little drive-through espresso stands nearby, and this particular and ubiquitous fast food establishment, while one I have easily avoided over the years, offered a lovely variety of caffeinated beverages on this sunny July afternoon, with four hours still yet ahead on the road.
I placed my order to the mid-50s woman at the register; adding in a large order of fries at the last second in a brazen attempt to be cool to five children waiting outside.
She took my card, asking: how was your 4th of July?
It was good.
I was in Joseph visiting family who recently moved there. Had a lovely time.
She nodded enthusiastically.
How was your 4th of July?
Well it was just me,
I didn’t have any invites to go anywhere, so I just set up a lawn chair in my front yard.
Did you see any good fireworks from your yard?
I don’t have a very good view, so I couldn’t really see any.
Did you have any good beverages to enjoy?
I didn’t have time to get to the store for anything like that.
Anything good to eat?
Just me and my dog.
She’s a Schnauzer.
What’s her name?
Her name’s Baby. She’s seven months old.
She sounds adorable,
My coffee and fries arrived. I picked them up and she smiled.
Have a great afternoon!
And I meant it.
I took the fries out, and some of the children were mildly impressed. My wife was not.
We loitered in the parking lot long enough to see her meander out for her 10-minute break; enough time for a cigarette in the car and then back in. She smiled; I waved, and hoped some of the children would follow suit.
I don’t know that they did, but I’d like to imagine they did. I did not ask.
We drove on.