I am convinced every town in America has a place where votes are cast and decisions are made. It is not town hall and it is not the mayor’s office. It is in a place of big windows, endless coffee, and common folk. The seat of honor may be a cold, hard bench, but it is also a place of hurried greetings, long arguments, and whispered secrets.
Old men sit until their memories are shared and their wisdom is heard. Perhaps it is an overabundance of caffeine, but sentiment runs strong and opinion stronger. Local politicians are birthed by swirling passion entwined with coffee’s steam. They are weened on debates with neighbor’s and friends. Their entrance into the world decided over a honey-bun.
It is the place where inroads are forged into the heart of town. It is the place where local news stories are embellished with family details. Assumptions are made. Lots are cast. The town’s fate hangs precariously over a stack of morning papers and a few discarded jackets. It is a place of future decision and past consequences wrapped neatly in present cellophane.
In Bible times these places were the city gates. Today they are the local cafe, corner deli, or full-service gas station. They beat with the pulse of the people. They are the keepers of the town.