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People Gather Everywhere

This is the season of gathering – and spending money while doing it. In Grand Rapids, the recession of Michigan looms in the air. If it isn’t sold here on 28th Street you don’t need it, and probably don’t want it. Every restaurant and retail store you can think of reside here. I had dinner in the crowded Panera last night, and came back this morning to finish up some Internet tasks, make phone calls, and as it turns out to people watch. There has been a constant and steady stream of people in line to order for three hours. Tables fill with a few of my type – solo wireless users, but we were far outnumbered by friends and business people meeting up to talk, work, study, and even pray together. One threesome discusses the impact of the economy on their company and clients. I feared the apparently out-of-town boss swooped in to lay off the two salespeople he was meeting with. Thank God I didn’t have to witness a public mass-firing. He didn’t do that but he did set the stage for a long period of hard work ahead. Still, the conversation wasn’t appropriate in a public setting. Two ladies talked about the shopping bargains everywhere. They’re stocking up for household needs, upcoming birthdays and other anticipated purchases to take advantage of all the bargains. They wondered aloud, “who in their right mind would buy anything they need at full price when there are so many bargains to be found?” I have no answer. Another pair discussed a January trip to the indoor waterpark, rather than the usual tropical winter vacation. Only a three hour drive to adventure, and they can take all the kids and grandkids. The conversations all seem to center on talk of the economy rather than the weather as a recent winter storm with “flash-freeze” and overnight snowfall have not once been mentioned. Panera makes a lot of money when people want to get together and talk. It’s going to be a long winter. I think it all means we’re going to see a lot of people in the garden centers in spring.

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