Solving the World’s Problems

I go to a particular McDonald’s restaurant when I am looking for amusing inspiration. In this hamlet of 43,000 people, we have four of the restaurants to choose from. But I choose only one when I am in a writing mood. And I make sure I visit between the hours of 6 a.m. and about 2 p.m. By now you may be wondering why I undergo this ritual and what is so interesting about McDonald’s during this time of day. Well, let me tell you.

In 2013, I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. I was working part time and found that I was most prolific in the afternoon hours. Or so I thought because generally I am not a morning person. A full schedule, an empty cupboard and fridge, and desperation drove me to seek out the McDonald’s closest to where I lived at the time because I needed a cheap breakfast and WiFi to get my 2 hours of writing time in. What I found there has kept me coming back for the last 3 1/2 years.

In the window facing the main part of the parking lot is a large elevated table with stools that have backs on them. At that table sat 6 retired men conversing. I didn’t recognize any of them, but now I can recognize all of them, even though I only know the name of one of them. After eavesdropping on the conversation for a while, I came to realize that the men generated solutions to the world’s problems at this very table. Sometimes the solutions are humorous, but sometimes, if I listen closely, they are profoundly interesting. Everything is solved over cups of java and hashbrowns.

These men meet daily; for how many years I know not, but today I had my lunch at McDonald’s. The topic of the day was hackers, which soon changed to Section 8 Housing. One of the men is a landlord and had plenty to say on this topic. I only catch snippets with all the other noise in the restaurant, but I enjoy sitting as close to them as I can get, just to hear what problems they are solving today.

Someday this group of men will make it into one of my stories or novels, but I haven’t found the right one yet. I want to write more about them, but to do that, I think I need to study them more…and grab a Big Mac. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

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