I ran a stop sign on my way out of Isleton this morning. I have no excuse. I could say that a lush sweep of green leaves hung over the red octagonal with its bright white letters, and that would be so. I could mention the suddenness of the intersection, a slightly less valid assertion. I could wave my arm in the direction of a van that had pulled from the curb just before my turn onto Jackson Road, its motion a quick, distracting blur in my periphery vision.
None of those would be the real reason that I ran the stop sign.
I stopped my car on the other side of the intersection. With shaky hands, I gripped the steering wheel, scolding myself. The actual, honest-to-god, genuine reason for my traffic offense had been the tender biscuit from which I had pulled a luscious layer to pop into my mouth.
When I first moved to California, I still had ten or fifteen cases left to conclude from my Missouri law practice. The RV park in which I had settled with my tiny house doled out mail in open slots at the kiosk which served as its office. That would not satisfy my ethical mandate for confidentiality, so I had rented a post office box for official mail. Five years later, with the park modernized by the postal service and its shiny bank of lockboxes, I could close that P.O. Box. Truth told, it’s set on auto-renew, and it’s a good excuse to get myself out of the house on my Fridays off.
A few months ago, a new place opened in the virtual ghost town of Isleton. The Isleton Coffee Company and its companion, the Isleton Biscuit Company now draw me down Main Street after my quick stop to mail a package or check for the monthly Journal of the Missouri Bar. I’ll snag a fresh biscuit and perhaps a day-old one, pretending it will be for Saturday’s breakfast or Sunday’s coffee. Neither will survive my Friday. One gets eaten en route to my next stop. The other graces a plate on the small table next to my rocker to serve as my afternoon snack. I gobble the first one with due dispatch. The second one gets pulled into its delicate layers, each slathered with butter or something creamy.
This morning I walked into the coffee shop after mailing my son’s birthday present. One of the two owners put a cup of coffee on the counter without asking, continuing her conversation with a customer standing ahead of me. As I voiced my thanks, the woman turned. Oh, I know you! she crowed with a shock of delight. You’re the lady who never complains!
I laughed, of course, because that’s far from true. She smiled, announcing that she reads my blog. And I needed biscuits for my family, and I know you come here on Fridays, so I thought I better get over here and buy some before you grabbed the lot! We stood there grinning at each other, not least because I’ve only done that once, as a treat for the staff at the park.
She stuck out her hand and said, I’m Kathy Devito. I admitted to my own moniker. We stood chatting at the counter. She told me she lives at Birds Landing and I told her that I’d almost gotten arrested there once, for tromping through a turbine field to photograph the whirling blades from beneath. She invited me to her place any time I wanted, second barn from the end on Devito Road, where I could photograph her two windmills to my heart’s content. I persuaded her to take a picture with me. Then she left, with her bag of biscuits held tightly, just in case I tried to snatch them away.
I paid for my coffee and two fresh biscuits, even sneaking in a tip which I know they don’t like to accept. I visited with the owners for a few minutes, then turned to leave, waving my thanks. As I slid into the driver’s seat, I thought about the pleasantness of small town life, where everybody knows you, or knows someone you know, or knows all the details of something notorious that you’ve done. I set my coffee in its cupholder, dropped the bag of biscuits on the passenger seat, and started the car. I drove a few blocks with my usual care. But as I rounded the corner on the backside of town, I couldn’t help sneaking a bite of biscuit. Probably that brief flutter of my eyes in the rapturous moment when the delicate crumb hit my palate made me miss that boulevard stop. Yes, let’s go with that. Luckily, no one got hurt.
It’s the twenty-third day of the one-hundred and fourteenth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
To read about my fundraising efforts and/or purchase a copy of my book, please visit my website by clicking this link. You have just eight days to order and have a portion of the purchase price go to June’s charity, The Matthew Shepard Foundation, to which you can directly donate by clicking here.
I will announce the July charity next week. Thank you.
P.S.: I hope I correctly spelled this lovely lady’s name. If not, I hope someone will enlighten me by leaving a comment, so I can correct my mistake. Thank you.