Deep In the Coffee Shop at the Retirement Center

The thing about a Retirement Home is that you can be retired publicly or privately. We alternate between the two, spending time in public areas and mixing with the other residents or sitting in our own apartment, reading or watching television. It really depends on our moods. There are no rules.

This morning I am alone in the coffee shop, scrunched over my iPad while writing this and trying to remain unnoticed by the residents. An iPad is not the kind of adult toy you want to be seen with here; it leads to too many questions. “What is that thing? A what? That’s not a word! What can it do? What are you using it for? You’re not taking pictures of us, are you? Are you recording what I’m saying?”

It’s simpler to keep it where it can’t be seen. The table nearest me is traditionally the crossword corner where anything up to 6 men sit for a couple of hours poring over the morning crossword and arguing about the answers. The lady who runs the coffee shop photocopies the crossword every morning and keeps a small pile on her counter.

At the next table sits a group of 8 women deep in animated conversation. I guess it’s a hot spot for local gossip. Now and again someone new drags a chair over and joins the group which will slowly swell in size during the morning.

There are card games going at three of the small square tables. This is the favorite pastime after 4 in the afternoons when many of the tables turn into bridge and other card games. Here and there solitary men or women sit reading their papers and there is a steady stream of residents wandering around looking for friends or an empty seat where they can join in or find some action.

I go unnoticed, get myself a cup of coffee and make it almost to the end of the article before a voice says, “Hey, Leon, what’s that thing you’re holding?”

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