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Several times a week I head to the local Hardees for some breakfast, coffee and quality WIFI time. I settle into the small glassed-in room which is the only one that has access to an outlet… and I eat and drink and watch.

The mornings are quiet. Groups of neighbors meet for breakfast… there’s a table of old men over in the corner swapping stories over coffee…hunters traipse in to warm up with food before they head back to the fields again…workmen dash in to grab something to eat for on the road. There’s a constant buzz of activity, though subdued.

And word of warning for those of you who might ever visit the Carlyle Hardees of a morning…don’t think for one minute that you can sit in THAT booth because that’s where Harold always sits!

At 11 o’clock, it all changes. The kids from the high school descend on the place like a swarm of locusts, walking the 2 blocks during their lunch hour. They jam the lobby waiting to place their orders, jostling each other and laughing loudly at their buddies. They pack every available chair as they wolf down their food. They bust out into song at the top of their lungs with a mouthful of burger and fries. They yell across the restaurant to say hello to those who walked just a little too slow to get there first. They scrounge for money they need to pay for their food, asking friends to pitch in cuz they’re “a little short”.

Despite the short-term chaos, they are amazingly well behaved all things considered.

This morning I watched an older couple who was unfortunate (?) enough to be having a late breakfast and got caught in the hubbub. Eyes lifted to the ceiling as the mass of teens descended on the quiet, I could just hear them in my head singing the song from Bye Bye Birdie… “KIDS! What’s the matter with kids today???”

Actually nothing is wrong with the kids. What’s wrong is that a lot of us have forgotten that WE were kids once too. And in reality, not a whole lot has changed over the years. 

I too left school for lunch. I too laughed and jostled and sang and scrounged for money I was missing. I probably did my fair share of annoying others with my friends when we were on lunch hour. I definitely wasn’t always quiet and ladylike! And I grew up just fine just like all these kids will too.

In the midst of it all, I packed up my computer and grabbed a refill of coffee for the road. As I reached the door, I heard “Let me get that!” and turned to see a young man toss his burger down on a nearby table and come to hold the door open for me.

Smiling, I loaded myself in the truck.

There really isn’t much the matter with THESE kids at least!