The Old Coot got ‘blocked’ in the donut shop

I’m sitting here in Dunkin Donuts looking out the window with a serious case of writer’s block. Vicky is over by the bridge walking her dachshund; the lot between here and there overflows with cars; a line of hungry customers inch forward, waiting for bagels and breakfast sandwiches to be handed to them over the counter. I watch all this, along with the traffic coming up to the stoplight before passing through the intersection and over the bridge and still, the dam blocking signals from my brain to the pen in my hand doesn’t even open a crack.

Nick comes in; chords from his ear buds decorate his neck and shoulders, a bag from John’s Fine Foods with today’s New York Times sticking out dangles from his hand. He sits with me, inhales a donut and then moves on. The line grows, but my block doesn’t move an inch. Someone waiting for a bagel asks Nancy when the place is scheduled to close for renovations. ”We don’t know. It was supposed to start tomorrow, but might be another week or so. Some problem with the permit,” is her reply.

What a change that will bring! Hundreds of “regulars” will be thrown off stride. “What to do? Skip coffee? No, that’s not an option. Coffee is our drug of choice. Perk it at home? Travel to the Dunkin Donut in Apalachin?” A mess of people will have to adapt. We are a species that is capable of adapting, but that doesn’t mean we like it. We’ll grumble while it’s closed and then grumble some more when it opens back up. The familiar surroundings will be gone. My favorite table with a perfect view of the river and the traffic light will be gone. The line scheme will change to adapt to a new flow pattern. A whole bunch of innovations from “corporate know-it-alls” will replace the familiar old layout with a highly engineered one.

The employees will grumble the most, “look at that set up! It’s stupid! Why are the pots way over there?” And, they’ll be right. They had this place humming, efficient and customer friendly. It will be destroyed until they can make it work again. Or, maybe not? It might work just fine. We’ll see. Something to watch when I get my next writer’s block in a few months and sit with a blank stare on my face in new surroundings.

But that’s then, and this is now, and all I can do is sit here with a blank piece of paper and wait for the dam in my head to break. An old coot taking up space.

Old Coot “Little” books are available at Riverow Bookshop, Owego.

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