In front of Trader Joe's, Richmond, Virginia:
A small crowd of shoppers gathered in front of the store, where a lone shopping cart stood, abandoned. Everybody wanted that cart, but nobody wanted to appear to want it. A polite charade ensued: "You take the cart," "No, you take it," "No, YOU take it, I insist." The invisible Hand of Society made it impossible to bypass the crowd and take a different cart from the cart corral. We were at a standstill, unable to shop, until a woman bravely stepped forward and claimed the cart only she was so flustered she somehow tipped it over. Have you ever seen a shopping cart crash onto its side while a crowd of middle class women look on? It is dramatic.
Western New York, near Ellicottville, on the road to Buffalo:
An old house by the side of the road had an enormous Christmas wreathe--still fairly fresh--nailed to its front, above the porch. The house was clearly abandoned, with boarded-up windows. What tragedy occurred between Christmas and now to this house to which someone had so lovingly affixed this wreathe?
The morning commute:
I am not one to criticize eccentricity of dress. How boring the world would be if everybody was tastefully clad at all times. Still, I do wonder what odd combination of personal style and career choice led to the man wearing a button-up business-style shirt with denim bib overalls on the Charlottesville number three bus.
Spot Coffee, Williamsville, NY:
A group of late-middle aged men met for coffee in the middle of the morning on a weekday. They had the look of comfortable small business owners and they spoke a curious Italian/English patois. A very Italian scene but I'll bet my grandmother they were all born in the United States, and very likely their parents were too. Had I stayed in Buffalo my whole life, I would not have noticed anything remarkable about these men, but you don't see this sort of thing in Charlottesville. They were also unashamedly checking me out, something else that doesn't happen often in Charlottesville.