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I entered a busy Starbucks this morning, and there were no available solo tables. So I plopped down at the big communal spot in the middle of the store, alongside an older man with gray hair and a blue sweatshirt.

Now, if there’s one lesson I’ve learned in my years of coffee shop writing—it’s, well, if you aspire to get work done, don’t talk to elderly folks sitting next to you. I know that sounds dickish. I know. But it’s pretty much true.

And yet, I also think the ignore the elderly is a sin worthy of 1,000 leeches. Especially when someone is alone, nursing a drink.

So I introduced myself to Robert.

He’s 87. Parents were born in Mexico, mother came to California to give birth to him. He worked in construction, used to go to movies every Friday with his wife. Then, when they started getting too violent, he would escort her into the cinema and wait in the lobby.

Robert worked in construction. When his wife died 12 years ago, he stopped going to the cinema to wait in the lobby. He loves that “Big Bang” show, which he watches on CD. No, DVD.

I had a book out, and he said, “Don’t worry—I won’t read your stuff.”

Why? I asked.

“I can’t see any longer. Lost my vision.”

I’m sorry, I said.

“That’s OK,” he replied.

Then he got up and left.

To drive home.