At a McDonald’s on I-40 in Kingman Arizona, I talked with a retired couple who were filching napkins from the restaurant in wholesale quantities.
The man, who wore a frayed green t-shirt labeled “Lake Havasu,” twice removed a foot-high stack of the napkins from the amenities table, then casually returned to a booth where his wife just as casually dropped them into a canvas bag.
Their booth was next to mine, and the second time the man returned with the napkins we made eye contact. But etiquette doesn’t allow you to ask the questions that come immediately to mind in such situations, so instead I asked if they’d ever been on I-15 North, up to where it connects with I-70, the highway I was going to take across the Rockies.
“All the time,” said the man, who was also named Bob. “We lived in Denver until it got as bad as L.A. That’s when we retired and came down here.”
I pictured gangs. But the problem was air pollution, which because of something to do with ozone had moved the city up to the eighth most polluted in the U.S. It had gotten so bad, Bob said, that they had been unable to breathe without oxygen.
“But tell him about the peaches,” said his wife, whose name I didn’t catch, even after asking her to repeat it, the difficulty perhaps being that she was, she told me “from the Old Country.”
The peaches, from Palisade, Colorado, just off I-70, and perhaps just in season when I would be driving by – like tomorrow – were reason enough to stop, Bob said.
I just might. And even if I don’t I doubt I will ever be able to look at any peach again without wondering what that couple were doing with all those napkins.