Not just another day off – Empty Nest, by Curt Swarm


Ginnie and I try to do things together on her days off. Often in the middle of the week, we go to movies, shop, and have lunch out. Since it might be a Tuesday or Wednesday, in all likelihood, we will be the only ones in the theater, which I sort of enjoy, like we’re getting away with something. Unusual things happen, you can’t make this stuff up. Ginnie has learned to expect the unexpected, to go with the flow.
On her last day off we stopped at a convenience store for a pit stop. We were standing in line at the checkout when we saw an ambulance pull up to the store, it’s lights whirring. We wondered if there was a medical emergency that we were not aware of. The paramedics got out of the ambulance, went around to its rear and opened the door. A man with nothing on except a medical gown, got out of the ambulance, and walked hurriedly into the convenience store to use the restroom. The back end of his gown was flapping open, exposing his rear portions, as is typical of medical gowns. Evidently, the patient was being transported and had to use the restroom. Ginnie and I were speechless.
We decided to have coffee. We were sitting in their little break area when a convenience-store clerk came up to wipe off the tables. I noticed something on her lip that I thought she was unaware off. I figured she might like to know, so I pulled out my hankie and offered to wipe it off. She said, “Oh, that’s my lip-ring hole. You’re the second person today that’s tried to do that.” Ginnie just about cracked up.
As a special treat, I took Ginnie to a book store/coffee house that also serves food. It’s a great atmosphere for reading, sipping latte, and having lunch. The place was very busy as it was the noon hour. I couldn’t help but notice that there was a gentleman sitting very quietly by himself in the middle of the room. He had his eyes closed and his hands folded in this lap. I watched him for a few minutes. I came to the conclusion that he was meditating. A person who was leaving came up and tapped the meditator on the shoulder. The fellow didn’t budge. I have never witnessed a person meditating in public before. I thought one usually did that in private. Maybe he had missed his morning meditation and needed to catch up. Different strokes for different folks. Ginnie thought it unusual also.
While Ginnie and I were reading and eating, there were two separate groups of people standing in the middle of the busy room, doing nothing but conversing. They stood there for the longest time, not bothering to sit down, just yakking it up, having a gay old time, like long lost friends. I was pleased to see, in our fast paced, interconnected world, people still talking and enjoying each others’ company.
A homeless person came in to warm up. No one seemed to mind. I was quite impressed when one of the members of the yakking-it-up group, stopped and bought the homeless person a cup of coffee. The homeless person was quite appreciative, sipping the coffee and warming his hands around the cup. He had on fingerless gloves. I have never understood the purpose of fingerless gloves, unless you’re trying to be cool. When I’m outdoors doing chores, it’s my fingers that get cold first.
The meditator came out of his trance and, wouldn’t you know it, went for his smartphone first thing. Electronics win!
Ginnie wiggled her eyebrows up and down—just another one of her days off, with Curt, in the middle of the week.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

About Chuck Vandenberg 5464 Articles
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