Mrs. Chatterbox and I flew from Portland to Sacramento to visit our oldest friends a few months after my dad unexpectedly died in 2008. Our friends didn’t have room to put us up so we checked into a nearby hotel.
The next morning our friends were picking us up and treating us at their favorite breakfast spot. While waiting for them to arrive I heard a conversation on the far side of the lobby. Three seniors were seated in leather chairs in front of a blazing fireplace, discussing their former careers. The men were about my dad’s age. I overheard one of them say he’d worked Operations for the City of Sunnyvale for thirty years. Sunnyvale is a small town near the southern tip of San Francisco Bay, about a hundred and twenty miles southwest of Sacramento.
I rushed over to them. When there was a break in their conversation I addressed the gentleman who’d worked for the City of Sunnyvale. “Sorry to interrupt, but I couldn’t help hearing that you worked for the City of Sunnyvale, in the Operations Department?”
The man pushed his bifocals up on his nose and looked at me curiously. “That’s right. Do I know you?”
“No. but I was wondering if you knew Lee Hayes. He also worked for the City of Sunnyvale for thirty years. He repaired fire trucks and ambulances.”
The man ran a hand through his sparse hair, stood up and placed a hand on my shoulder. “I have some bad news for you. Lee passed away a few months ago. I saw his obituary in the paper.”
“I know,” I said. “I buried him. I’m his son.”
His eyes widened. “You don’t say! I’m George Brewer; knew your dad real well, worked beside him for years. He was one heck of a guy. We were all sad when he retired and moved up to Oregon to be near his son. So—you’re the son?”
I nodded and we shook hands.
“Do you live here in Sacramento?” George asked.
“No, just visiting friends.”
“I retired and moved to Sacramento to be near my son.”
I introduced Mrs. Chatterbox. The other gentlemen had to leave but George invited us to sit down. He regaled us with great stories about Dad until our friends arrived to take us to breakfast.
“It was great meeting you, George,” I said, wondering what the odds were of running into someone this far from home who’d known my dad. “Small world, isn’t it?”
George smiled. “Yep, but I wouldn’t want to carpet it.”
An old joke, but one Dad would have laughed at.
Note: Coming soon--the new and improved Chubby Chatterbox. Launching 10/15/12