As my readers should know, I do spend quite a bit of time in McDonald’s while working, sipping on coffee or mid-afternoon pep-me-up Coke, and availing myself of the Wi-Fi needed to do my iPad work. And, over time, those locations in various restaurants in Ohio and Indiana have provided material for my weekly offerings, so much so, that should I ever find the time to do a compilation book of my favorite columns, I would have to include a chapter of just the pieces that I call my Golden Archers.
Now, whenever my business takes me south on I-75, I often wind up at the Tipp City restaurant. Besides the larger seating area in front of the indoor play area, which I generally take only as a last resort because of the distractions, there’s another five-table area back where the restrooms are, an area a lot more concentration-conducive. The mother lode table is the one directly across from the side door leading into the kitchen area with a big enough table top for my materials and an outlet right above the tabletop.
The table also provides me a little periodic diversion when I look through the small window into the kitchen to watch the high-school-age workers make their initial forays into the world of labor. Many come in right after 3 p.m. when school is over for the day to work a shift I sincerely hope doesn’t end too late for homework to be done carefully and enough sleep to promote alertness for the next day’s classes. That’s the former school teacher in me bubbling to the surface.
How well I remember donning my counselor’s cap when probing this part-time job issue and its relation to my guys’ and gals’ academic performances. While I still remember many of my charges that didn’t do very well unwilling to reduce job hours on school nights, I suppose that’s someone else’s concern now.
At any rate, let me get back to this week’s tale. On this overcast, drizzly day, upon entering my temporary office space, I was delighted to snag that primo table, plug myself in, spread my notes and begin my reports and emails.
Soon, an elderly couple, meaning in my current world, folks older than this elder, came in and sat at a nearby table. Of course, with open seating and quarry tile, a McDonald’s is perfect for unintentional eavesdropping, that is, unless your ears are painted on, as my old parks-and-rec pal Brad Clark used to tell me his father would ask him when he was a lad not prone to do as he was told.
Without ever saying a word to them, in the space of our 30 minutes together, I found out quite a bit about the couple. My primary source was the husband, with the wife’s singular contribution to his using an iPad and a flip phone to secure a hotel room in the Cleveland area not far from the casino providing some occasional encouraging words.
As he called a hotel, always mentioning that he was retired military, having served in Korea in search of any discount available, he had two concerns. First, he wanted to be close to the casino and, of course, second, he didn’t want to pay too much, as in more than $125 a night. He reminded his wife, the rate at that nice hotel on their wedding night was $12 and she reminded him how very long ago that was.
After a couple of calls were unsuccessful because the hotels failed to meet both of his requirements, he did hit another kind of jackpot than the ones he hoped his slot machines would yield, a Hampton Inn in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn for $110 for each of two nights, just six miles away from all those slot machines.
Then he removed a credit card from his wallet to secure the room, and in a voice clearly heard not just by me but probably by the high school junior about to drop some fries in the kitchen, began slowly and loudly enunciating the type of card, VISA, and then every single number, including the three-digit security code on the back as well as the expiration date.
Were I prone to identity thievery, it would have been one of those classic shooting-fish-in-a-barrel moments.
So, today’s epistle comes under the heading of “Cautionary Tales.” In an age, when, according to that rather clever TransUnion commercial where the crocks belt out the Julie Andrews’ song “Getting to Know You,” and there are all sorts of nefarious folks out there anxious to snag your personal information, be very careful and very aware as to the how’s and the where’s when giving out your personal information.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected]