We were just one day into what was going to be a long trip. Melissa and I were looking for a place where we could get a good cup of coffee and use the internet. Pulling into a cafe in Richmond, Wisconsin, we had found the spot.
We chose a table in the corner where it would be quiet, ordered coffee, and the two of us began to type away on our devices.
About ten minutes after we sat down, a lady, probably about 70, walked up to our table. “Look at you two.” She said, “You’re both on your computers and you’re not even talking to each other. Put those things down and talk to each other.”
I laughed, then explained to her, that we do talk a lot, but we stopped specifically to use the internet. “No.” She said, “I’ve been watching you. You haven’t talked at all.” She pointed at my iPad and continued, “You have a beautiful lady here and you’re ignoring her while looking at that thing.”
Melissa tried to explain,”We both had to do some business, then get back on the road...where we would have 1000 miles and hours and hours to talk again.” “No, no.” Said the lady to Melissa, “Put that down and talk to him. He probably has things to say to you.” My wife rolled her eyes, “He always has something to say!” We shared a good laugh about that. The lady again insisted that we put down our devices.
“If I don’t pay this gas bill and this water bill, we’re going to have a whole new set of problems to deal with.” I told her. We had another laugh.
“May I ask your name?” I inquired. “Sabina.” She replied, I repeated “Sabina?” “Yes,” She said, “Like Sabrina, without the R.” “That’s a very pretty name.” I said.
We chatted for a bit, learning that Sabina was once quite the athlete. In school she competed in swimming, gymnastics, and cheerleading. I told her, “I tried cheerleading, but the skirt didn’t look good on me.”
“Where are you from?” Sabina asked. “Minnesota.” I answered, “If you walk to the top of Wisconsin, jump in the lake and swim about fifty or sixty miles, you’ll be at our house.” She gave me a slap on the arm, “Oh, you...” She said, laughing, “I can’t swim that far anymore.”
Sabina returned to her original point. “You need to talk to her.” She said to me, then to Melissa, “You need to look at him and enjoy each other. Spend some time together without those computers.”
I quickly pulled up Melissa’s profile picture on Facebook. It’s a photo I took from the back of the canoe, of Melissa in the front of the canoe, while we were paddling on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. I explained, “This is a very quiet, peaceful lake. We enjoy spending time together in the solitude of this environment. There are no computers here...and she’s not looking at me here either!” We shared a good laugh.
Sabina said, “I’m sorry to come bother you. It’s none of my business anyway and I shouldn’t have come to your table. I just want to see you nice people talk to each other.”
I explained, “Sabina, I’m glad you came to our table. Honestly, I would have done the exact same thing. My wife and I don’t ignore each other, we just have to take a little time here to get online. I can’t do that while I’m driving down the road, but I will enjoy my wife’s company while traveling.”
Sabina said she understood, “I’m just on my way to the wine and cheese store for fresh baguettes, but they aren’t open yet, so I thought I would stop in here for some breakfast. Why not let them do the cooking?” She asked. “Good plan.” I said, adding, “We had the same idea.” Sabina said farewell to us, then headed out the door.
As Sabina walked out the door, Melissa told me that she had been watching Sabina. A few minutes earlier she paid for the people’s coffee at another table. Very cool.
Just a few moments later a man walked in carrying a box with about a dozen or so cartons of eggs. It appeared he was the local supplier of farm fresh eggs. He joined a few other men at a table across from us.
The men were enjoying good conversation, talking about some church events. One man addressed the man at the end of the table, “Hey John, the priest wanted to know where you’ve been.” John, obviously hard of hearing said, “What?” “The priest.” The man repeated, “He wants to know where you’ve been.” “Who?” John replied. There was laughter.
The egg man explained, “The congregation took up a collection for you.” “They did?” John laughed. “How much did they get?” The man replied, “Four cents.” There was hearty laughter among them.
The egg man went to another table where he delivered the rest of his eggs. I went to the cash register to get change, then approached the egg man. I set a stack of four pennies on the table in front of him. He looked at me strangely. “What’s this for?” He asked. “I’m Catholic too. I wanted to match the collection the congregation took up for John...” The man laughed. I set a second stack of four pennies in front of him saying, “...and, I want to double that amount.”
The man laughed more. He waved his hand pointing about the room, “He’s Catholic and so is she. That couple are Catholic too and there are six more of them around the corner at another table.” We shared a good laugh.
I then set down the last two pennies of the change I had acquired at the register. “And these are for you, so the next time you meet with your buddies, Catholic or otherwise, you’ll be able to get in your two-cents-worth.” We shared another good laugh, then I returned to my table.
Melissa asked, “What’d you just do?” I told her. I laughed, she just shook her head and smiled.
The egg man came back over to John. He set the stack of four coins in front of him, explaining, “That man over there is Catholic and he wanted to match the church collection for you.” John was laughing. The egg man set the second stack of pennies in front of John. “Then he wanted to match his own donation.” The two men laughed. John said, “Well, he must be quite a guy.”
The egg man set the last two pennies in front of the man saying, “And these are for you so you can get in your two-cents-worth the next time we meet.” There was more laughter. Their laughter made me happy.
Melissa and I headed out the door, where I found a dirty old penny laying on the ground. Face-up or face-down, doesn’t matter to me - I always stop to pick up a penny.
We returned to our car, where just outside the driver’s door was a brand new, shiny penny. I picked it up, showed the coin to Melissa, then put it in my pocket with the other penny.
Sabina had approached us the same way I would approach other folks in a cafe. I gave another man what he needed to get in his two-cents-worth. He then passed it on to yet another man and I ended up with just enough to get my two-cents-worth at the next place we stop.
How about that?
What goes around, comes around.
Sabina Richmond wi
Bought coffee for a table of men.
Put the devices down.
Showed profile pic. No more perfect setting and Melissa isn’t looking at me there either.