Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Daily Dilemma

Lunch time poses the a daily dilemma for us middle class workers: where to eat? There are probably thirty place to eat within a 10 minute drive of my office. Here in my small midwestern town of 180,000 people, food choices can be easily grouped into 1) tacos/Mexican, 2) hamburgers, 3) Chinese buffets, 4) chicken, 5) subs/sandwiches, and 6) full service chain restaurants.

Today I chose chicken. Being somewhat adventurous, I selected a place where I had never eaten before. This place is famous among a few friends of mine not only for their 'broasted' chicken, but also for providing the added convenience of self-service gasoline and lottery ticket sales. The fact that I needed gas and only had a few minutes for lunch may have influenced my decision.

I chose a seat near a window so I could watch people filling up their big cars with gas ($1.98/gallon today). I noticed some older folks seated nearby who noticably lowered their voices when I came in. A little self conscious, I began to eat my "broasted" chicken in this gas-traunt (I believe that broasted is a word derived by combining 'Bad' with 'Roasted'. If they can call their chicken broasted, I guess I can call their establishment a gas-traunt, can't I?). These senior folks were obviously regulars and could spot an interloper like me. After awhile, they settled down and would occassionally meander up to the cashier (who greeted them by name) to buy some scratch tickets. On the return trip they stopping by the soda fountain to top off their drink cups. Back at the table they used a lucky spoon to scratch off the stuff on the card. Occassionally the man would show his companion the fuits of the scratching and they would both sigh a little sigh, and then back to the scratching.

Many thoughts crossed my mind as I watched their show. I began to wonder what my own senior years would be like. Would I have enough money to do the things I wanted to do, or would I be frequenting a gas-taurant, scratching lottery cards for dollars. Yet who is to say what I will want to do when I am 2X my current age -- perhaps they were doing exactly what they wanted to do: perhaps they had learned a lesson that I had yet to learn, that life doesn't need to be so complicated, that if my wife and I both survived to retirement and could both appreciate a simple pleasure, maybe that should be enough. Check back here in 40 years and I'll let you know.

Todays lesson is that adventure is not always to be found, but searching for adventure is a way to express your optimism for the future.

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