There are usually five or six of them. They sit at the table for about an hour each day -- except Sunday -- and usually in the same spots. You might see a couple of them "out of place" from time to time, but not very often. There's no "reserved" sign on the table, but I doubt any of the restaurant staff would let anyone else sit there at a particular time each day. And they never have to ask for a refill of their coffee or tea cups as the waitresses offer service with a smile.
Most of these "gentlemen" are well into the graying stage of life. More than one of them likes to pick fun at others around the table in a friendly, mischievous manner. A couple of them are rather quiet and seem to mostly just take it all in -- offering input only when they feel it is necessary or useful for correction -- or just to stir things up a bit. Several are what you might call "old school" in their opinions of how things should be, with those opinions based mostly on the way things "used to be."
There are a few retired business owners in the bunch, as well as a man with a storied medical background and at least one who has been deeply involved in agriculture for most of his life. Most days they are joined by a member of the clergy, whom, I guess, is there to watch over their souls as covertly as possible.
At any given moment there might be three or four conversations going on around the table at the same time. Then, suddenly, everyone focuses on a single speaker -- at least until they realize they are not really interested in the subject matter.
One likes to talk about fishing and another doesn't care to hear anything about fishing. Some support a certain political party while others favor a competing party. Some favor hot tea while others drink coffee.
Somehow they manage to get past their differences and enjoy one another's company.
While I'm not officially part of their group, I have had the honor of being invited to sit with them on several occasions. And you can suffice it to say that each time has been a great learning experience for me.
After all, I'm guessing there are probably a combined 400 plus years of experience and wisdom available - to anyone who might pay attention -- in that one particular place for that one particular hour each day.
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned during my life is to always take time to learn lessons from those who are willing to pass on the lessons they've learned -- good and bad -- to you on a first-person "this-really-happened-to-me" basis.
Books are good, movies and television can teach us a lot (if we look in the right place at the right time). But nothing beats listening to someone who is willing to take the time to look you in the eye and give you insight into life as they've known it.
And the coffee's pretty good, too.