November 15, 2017 | Posted in General
I hit the gym four mornings a week, usually before 8:30am .
One of those mornings I also go to breakfast with my dad…well kinda, sorta.
My dad passed away in 2004, I miss many things about him, one of which was having breakfast at McDonald’s as he had an affinity for the #11- Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel that absolutely drips butter and oozes onions. Toss in the obligatory hash browns and a coffee and its a nice throwback to my pop as I ponder my life for a few minutes and think on him.
I vary up the days that I hit Macs, and since I’ve been back in the gym again for the past three months, not too worried about my weekly foray into the land of fast food. Down nearly 15 pounds, shoulder feels good, neck and back in working order, knees check out fine.
The first time I grabbed breakfast at Mickey D’s I was within ear distance of a long table filled with old fellas that clattered like an assembly line. All of them were old enough to be my father, a few my grandfather. I sat and soaked up their conversations that ranged from how to increase font size on their phones to sharing pics of the grand-kids to giving the manager are hard time.
He was complaining that all they do is take up space and spend about $1.80 per week, they pushed back that without them, it wouldn’t be the same. He of course agreed, while serving them hot coffee and laughing.
After six or more “sessions” where I was eavesdropping, I finally made the move to stop and thank them for their “entertainment” as it was a refreshing way to start my day.
“This is the real Breakfast Club kid” barked one guy. “Do you remember that movie?”
“All those kids were being punished but ended up learning a lot about themselves and each other in the process” he continued while the others listened and nodded in agreement.
“We are doing the same thing but the only punishment is how crappy the coffee is here!”
The table roared with hoarse laughter, the manager rolled his eyes.
Sometimes the Breakfast Club has eleven members, other days just three or four, so yesterday I stopped again on my way out and greeted them, and got an invite to sit down.
Figured that was some kinda big deal, so I did.
“You a cop?”
“You look like a cop kid” said William who served in Vietnam and proudly wore his cap filled with buttons from combat. ” Mac was a cop” he continued, pointing to a dark haired guy sitting by himself, sipping coffee quietly.
“Nope, I’m not a cop. I usually spend most of my time writing these days, even though most of my career has been in radio.”
“Yeah? No shit. Do you write cop stuff like Mickey Spillane?”
“Maybe you should write cop stuff. That shit sells big time” William explained, while half a dozen other guys listened in.
I thought I would change course, so asked them how long they have been meeting.
“Thirteen years ago Leo passed away. Did you know him? He lived around here for a long time. Anyway, Leo kicked and we came here for coffee after his burial. Next morning I came in for breakfast and there was Don in line next to me” explained Freddy.
Don who was seated a few chairs away gave a nicotine stained thumbs-up.
“So we just started showing up every morning, more and more guys came along and so we are here seven days a week from about eight in the morning until ten-thirty or so. Someone is always here and we like it that way. Gives us something to look forward to each morning. People need that, you know a reason to get up each day.”
“Yea we look out for each other. No politics or religion allowed. We all know God in our own way and sure as shit ain’t gonna spend our time arguing over the Almighty” insisted Hal who’s gnarled fingers were straining to bang out a text message. “It’s the wife, she is making sure I take my medication” he said.
“Here’s all the medication you need Hal” said Freddy, as he tossed a box of cookies down the table. They all laughed.
“Yea we had a guy that tried to come in here and mess stuff up with politics and shit. Saw right through his bullshit. There are nine veterans at this table and this clown was gonna tell us what is what. We kicked his ass out” barked William. “Did you serve kid?”
“Yes I did. Coast Guard.”
“No shit” said William. “Coast Guard eh. Pete there is a Navy lifer and so is Chick, but he’s not here this morning. Thanks for your service kid.”
“So let me ask you guys a question before I head out” I said.
“What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your life?”
Table got quiet, the only sound came from the television on the wall blaring out the news of the morning and the line of customers ordering.
“Every day is a gift.” came the first response.
“Take care of your shit” said another voice.
“Cellphones are a waste of time.”
” Forgive people before its too late.”
” Don’t drink the coffee here.”
” Be proud of who you are.”
“Do unto others.”
“Take care of the people that are important to you best you can.”
” Never go to sleep angry.”
“Count your blessings.”
I thanked them for their time and the invite, slapped a few backs and shoulders and then bought them a round of coffee.
“Hey kid, if you want to join in that’s fine but you have to start at the far end of the table and work your way up, just like life” snorted Freddy while the others smirked their approval.
Might just do that.