As a writer I normally carry my laptop (especially when I’m finishing a book like now).
I’ve found that I can work in nearly any location. For some reason, my muse isn’t affected by crowd noise, music, or traffic.
One of my best offices is at McDonald’s. I work at three of them in Alexandria.
They’re hard to beat. Senior coffee. High tables from which I can stand. Great wi-fi (which I often turn off). Clean. Friendly.
Last Saturday, while traveling home from a great week of Boys Camp at Pineywoods Encampment near Corrigan, Texas, I stopped in at the Jasper, Texas McDonald’s. I had about two hours of finishing work on my book, As the Crow Flies, and I wanted to have it out of the way and off my mind before I got home to DeDe after a week away.
Even though I was typing furiously the entire time, it was hard to ignore the various conversations in the Jasper McDonald’s.
There was a happy vibrancy in the place. It was Saturday. Families were heading to the lake. Laughter. Lots of “Thank you’s” and “Yes Ma’ms”.
It was evident many of the customers were regulars who knew the counter workers by name. People spoke to each other and as small town people do, they took their time, asking about families and friends.
I know few people in Jasper but have always liked the town. As I drive through on US 190, I’m always saddened by the bad reputation Jasper got several decades ago. There was a terrible racial murder that stunned our nation.
The crime horrified everyone as it should have.
What I also hated was how it painted Jasper as bigoted racially-divided town. I can name towns in Louisiana and Texas that have earned that reputation, but Jasper isn’t one of them.
I was reminded of Good Jasper during my two-hour sojourn Saturday at McDonald’s. Both the workers and customers were a mixture typical of East Texas: White, Black, and Hispanic.
And they were a friendly crowd. I would even say I sensed a spirit of love, and I don’t think it was just the Happy Meals.
My favorite customers were an older couple, the man in overalls and the woman with her walker, who shuffled in at 3 pm and doubled a pancake breakfast. As I left, they were sitting there, enjoying the meal and each other. It was a scene Norman Rockwell would’ve painted.
I finished my work just as they started on their hash browns.
I’m glad I made a stop in Jasper.
At the same time, 1,146.8 miles away, hate marched through the streets of another good town: Charlottesville, Virginia.
I’ve been there and it’s a nice town. Home of the University of Virginia. Near Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson.
But on Saturday, it was where a strange mixture of “White Nationalists” chose to show up bearing swastikas and chanting Nazi slogans. Speaking of Hitler as some kind of hero.
That’s UnAmerican and just plain wrong.
Some even claimed to be Christian. All I could think about were the words of Jesus: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.”*
From what I saw later on TV, there wasn’t any love among these folks called Alt-Right Fascists. No love there. Just anger and hate.
Not the kind of love I saw, and felt, at the McDonald’s in the east Texas town of Jasper.
If an Astros fan and Rangers fan can get along, so can anyone.
Pineywoods Camp, Texas