“Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe, and learn; take a look around you whenever you have time and never forget everything and every person that has the least place within your heart.”
Amidst the hustle and buzz of people talking, kids crying, cars pulling in and out and footsteps sounding heavy on the old wood floors as families shop and browse through Wall Drug .. I have learned one of the most fascinating stops may simply be a table in the restaurant next to a few of the locals.
I hadn’t sat down for more than a few minutes when I heard, “Where are you from?” I look over at the table full of gentleman next to me and answer. I had already been quietly entertained by the conversations happening at their table but was trying very hard to focus on the work ‘to-do’ list in front of me.
I once again, picked the wrong place to sit, if I thought I was getting any work done.
We chatted for a few moments, then I turned my attention back to my laptop and a series of emails I had to get out that morning. I wanted to get them out quickly and get back to family. But, my answering emails would only be momentary. More questions came, some chuckling and good old fashioned ribbing of the tourist sitting there trying to ‘work’. I looked up knowing my efforts at that moment were going to be fruitless.
There were three tables as I looked down the line, full of older local gentleman, gathered for coffee. All giving each other an incredibly hard time. Laughing all the while. They ranged between middle-age and older, many with weathered hands and obvious signs of hard work and a lot of sun over the years on their faces. But they were all smiling. And as they left, one by one, they were talking about who would be back again tomorrow.
Butch, Dan and I were the last three left sitting in our little area. I kept thinking they might head out shortly too and I could get back to work, but we talked for nearly an hour. As stressed as I was about work and about being away from the family for too long, I took a deep breath and realized instead, what a wonderful moment this was.
I learned quite a bit about Wall that morning. Names, history, who’s who sitting around those tables and what each of them have done in and around Wall over the years. Where they came from, family histories, some very interesting things unique to one of their jobs I was asked not to share. More about each of them, Butch and Dan. And they continued to inquire about me. It was refreshing, fun and made me feel that much more at home in my new home state of South Dakota.
A phone call from one of the women waiting on one of my emails snapped me back into the reality of my morning, of the time and what I had yet to get done.
“I’m sorry, guys, I’ve got to get back to work,” I told them. They reassured me it was fine and it was time for them to get to their days as well.
“We might be back tomorrow,” said Butch as the two got up to leave. “Maybe we’ll see you again.”
I am relatively certain, we will.
A fine piece, from the quote (how true) to the example.
Local people are the story and the way forward…
but, sorry, some work has to get done
Thanks for the note, plhiggs! Love always connecting with locals. It is where we learn, grow, truly connect in any new community or even at a highway stop. People fascinate me and everyone has a story .. sincerely. Love that you stopped in! Hope you’ve been well!