We pulled off the highway into the sleepy little town of Norwood.
It was 8:45pm and I was in dire need of a cup of coffee.
Last night I'd gotten two hours of sleep in the comfort of my own bed before being unceremoniously awakened by the alarm that signaled the beginning of a "travel day".
fighting freeway traffic,
finding longterm parking,
navigating the madness that is LAX.
Then a flight to Boston during which I scored a whopping 45 minutes of sleep.
Landing, luggage, shuttle, rent-a-car.
Destination: Providence, Rhode Island for the U.S. Gondola Nationals.
Struggling to figure my way out of Boston in the rain on roads I'd never driven before.
Out on the highway, it all caught up with me.
So when I walked through the door of the Dunkin' Donuts in Norwood, Massachusetts, I didn't just want coffee, I needed it.
Living in Southern California, I don't often see a Dunkin' Donuts,
so knowing how iconic the place is in the North-East, I figured I ought to have the full experience, and get something to wash down with my coffee.
I stepped up to the counter and announced that I'd come all the way from California to have some of their legendary donuts and coffee.
The lady behind the counter was amused.
I placed my order, including a breakfast sandwich
for my wife who was in the car.
I paid, chatted a bit with the Dunkin' staff and a nice woman behind me in line who was a "regular"
(the woman at the counter knew her order when she walked in the door).
I stepped away to wash my hands in the bathroom, and upon returning, watched the "regular" pick out two donuts that were frosted as jack-o-lanterns.
I said "oh, those are fun!" and asked if they were for someone at home.
She gave a knowing smile, then, when the bag was handed to her...she gave it to me, and said "these are for you, welcome to New England" like an old friend.
It really hit me. I was totally taken aback.
A small gesture, but one that changed my whole state of mind at the moment.
We drove on through the dark countryside in the rain.
I sipped my coffee and munched on the donut that I had ordered.
My wife enjoyed her breakfast sandwich.
We checked into our hotel and crashed out for the night.
This morning, while l look out my window at the beautiful city of Providence, complete with fall colors, I enjoy another cup of coffee,
and a jack-o-lantern donut.
"Welcome to New England" - I sure feel welcome here.