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Every day, except when I am traveling, my partner Dave and I eat breakfast at McDonald’s.

You may scoff and cite the perils of their pseudo-food and the negative effects of their farming practices, and you are right. Be that as it may, I enjoy this daily ritual.

Looking around the room as I munch my Egg McMuffin, I see a diverse range of people who I would probably never have encountered in the normal circles of my life:

  • The person placing an order at the counter, obviously mentally impaired but apparently holding together enough to be here alone.
  • An elderly gentleman who looks to be so old and fragile that I often wonder if he should be driving here at all.
  • The cluster of senior and near-senior citizens who frequently meet here to share a bible study or talk politics.
  • Several of the local homeless folks, chatting amiably with each other and, sometimes, with a few of the regulars.
  • The effusive post-retirement employee who works a few shifts a week just to keep herself occupied after the death of her husband.

These people are a wide world away from the scientists, engineers, writers, entrepreneurs, and executives I normally encounter.

Being here and exchanging hellos with these people (and occasionally helping them with their iPads) helps take me out of my head and grounds me in a way that seems to matter. Participating in this little community at McDonald’s keeps Dave and me from being isolated in the tiny little cloud of high tech intellectuals we are usually exposed to.

I am happy to be counted as part of their community.