The coffee shop bunch is a well-informed group of men.We’re almost never quiet. When things are quiet, something important or educational is happening. When things are loud, that’s normal. Someone’s trying to make a point.
Most of the time, we’re talking about a range of important issues.
- We discuss taxes. Most of the guys are against them for one reason or another.
- We discuss the weather. Most of the guys are for weather if it involves rain.
- We don’t talk about sports too much.
- We discuss education. Most of the guys are for education if it doesn’t cost too much.
- We discuss estate sales and swap meets. Most of the men are for both. Estate sales and swap meets are usually addressed with two questions: 1) “Are you going? and 2) “What did you buy?”
- The list is endless and interesting if you don’t get out much.
Then the Wise County Messenger Update arrives. The delivery man enters the restaurant, surveys the number of inquiring minds (counts eyes and divides by two), then hands a generous number of the newsy publication to the closest of us coffee sippers. That first man takes one and passes the stack to the next person until everyone in the group has a copy.
Whataburger is suddenly silent. Some of our guys move their lips while they read. One or two guys use a finger to mark progress down the page.
There’s not much in the publication that’s real news to us guys. We know pretty much everything that’s going on in town. Just about the only item that hadn’t been discussed prior to the delivery of the Messenger is the list of funerals and memorial services. We discuss that list.
Conversation always includes comments and questions like, “Which one of those Smith boys is this on the funeral list? Is he the one who married that girl from Slidell?” Another might ask, “Where did this person live 25 years ago?” (It’s almost never asked like that, but it nearly always comes down to that.)
After the silence during which everyone reads, and after the funeral list is discussed, it’s back to business.
Except for the one slow guy whose lips are moving while his finger inches down the page.
Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.