“Respect the Board, Please”

June 11, 2017, about 11 a.m. at southwest corner of the space formerly occupied by the Scaffold.

Today, as I have for 16 years, I’ll go to my local Caribou Coffee, spend my usual 1 1/2 hours, sip a single cup of coffee, and come home to begin the rest of my day.

This coffee place is a busy, very civilized place. I imagine that it reflects this suburban community of over 60,000 quite well. The people I see every day, from my own neighborhood, to the post office, to other places, reflect civility and respect for each other. In point of fact, I travel around more than most in this metropolitan area of more than 3,000,000 people, and the usual experience is the same: civility and respect.

We are basically good people in this country of ours.


In the coffee shop there is a blackboard where people can and do write things. Occasionally I’d see someone draw something there, or post a few words. Personally, I’ve not lifted a piece of chalk….

A couple of Saturdays back, I came in to see a simple declaration on the Board, then the next day, a response below it:

(click to enlarge)

Public messages at coffee, June 24, 2017

The unknown authors were not known to me, nor perhaps to others. In fact, the sign seemed not to be noticed.

A bad cold side-tracked me from my favorite haunt for several days, and when I came back the sign had been erased, replaced with the simple phrase that titles this post, accompanied by a chalked smily face. Perhaps something had happened in my absence. There were no other comments on the now blank board, a frozen conversation as it were.

Yesterday, I watched an artistic employee draw a commercial for the featured coffee at the space. It isn’t the same.


We are, basically, a civil society with, most recently, a very mean and very visible edge to it, particularly in the very public and belligerent political discourse. The few “shouted” words on the blackboard dramatize the downside of our current situation in this country of ours.

Each one of us has a responsibility to change that conversation in the many simple ways available to do us. This is not a big deal. I notice a lot of genuine politeness among strangers recently, that I had not been seeing. That is a very good thing.

In and of itself, the three word complaint on the Board at Caribou was no big deal.

But it was not viewed as innocuous, and someone (not I) complained about it.

In a very small way it brought to the surface the rather ugly tenor of that public conversation we confront daily in the newspaper, the internet and the media itself: a single dimensional view.

We are better than what caused “Respect the Board, Please” to be written.

Have a good 4th of July.

POSTNOTE: The flag and flower appear in an earlier post which many have read: Here, scroll down to comment 24. The flag and flower are gone now…most recently I was back to the site this past Sunday. It is another place I will be watching.

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