How do You Like Your Coffee? Time to Ban Guns in Public Places!

Marty and I stopped for lunch at the Black Bear Café one day during our recent trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming, and noticed a man sitting at the counter with a pistol in his belt. The Black Bear is anything but a Wild West saloon, with swinging doors. In fact it is a family oriented restaurant, favored by locals and visitors, alike. “Jack” helped himself to coffee, from one of the glass pots on the burner. Since we were not served yet, he poured coffee for us and started a conversation. He said that since Wyoming was a state that permitted carrying guns he might as well keep his visible.

One afternoon, about a week or so later, we stopped at the Bear for pie and coffee. We noticed Jack leave, but since he was in another part of the store, we thought he hadn’t seen us. When we were about to pay, we were surprised to learn that our friend treated us to our dessert. Jack seems like a nice person, and I’m sure that there are many nice people who tote guns.

Some states allow open carry of guns in public places; few have laws preventing it. But as Gail Collins wrote, “The open display of weaponry freaks out average citizens, especially the ones with children. It outrages police.”

I thought of the snake of dubious nature that I caught sight of at the counter in a Dunkin Donuts restaurant.  People who flaunt weapons and wild animals seek to draw attention to themselves and shock others. Like Jack, many of these people may be very nice. However we don’t know when anger might trigger a violent response.

There is no place for reptiles at Dunkin Donuts, and there is no place for guns, whether concealed or in full view, in restaurants  and at playgrounds.

Do we need another Charleston?



Do you visit Dunkin Donuts for coffee, a bagel, a doughnut or Coolatta? Or do you go to Dunkin Doughnuts to see wild animals?

I was having a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and I noticed a young man waiting in line with something coiled around his arm that looked like a snake. I took a second glance thinking that he might be sporting some kind of ornament. But no, the snake did move. It wasn’t the garden garter snake that emerges from under the rocks in warm weather, or the beautiful black snake that makes a rare appearance. This snake was grey, at least two inches in diameter, more than three feet long and with large intricate markings on its skin. The reptile’s handler was holding it by the head. I figured that I would just stay where I was sitting until they left.

When it was the young man’s turn to order, the person behind the counter calmly reminded him that it’s against health regulations to bring animals into a restaurant, and asked him to take his pet outside. At the very least, reptiles are carriers of the Salmonella disease. The fellow’s companion put the snake in a bag and left while the snake owner waited for the food.

Back in my car, I saw the two men walking across the parking lot with the bag in hand. Were there other snakes in the bag? What else might they be carrying? They might have been herpetologists, who worked with snakes, studied them, and enjoyed them as pets. It’s through such people that we learn about snakes and other reptiles. But then, would a responsible handler bring a snake into restaurant ?

I was a bit uneasy, and happy that their itinerary didn’t include the supermarket, my next stop.