Snapshots: Desperately Seeking Decaf

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Award-winning former reporter Patrice Gaines quit her job and gave up life in the Washington, D.C.-area for the rest and relaxation she finds in her new home of Lake Wylie, S.C. She describes what she sacrificed when she left big city life — like good coffee.


I'm Farai Chideya. And this is NEWS & NOTES.

It's time for our weekly Snapshot.

We checked in again with Patrice Gaines, an award-winning former reporter with the Washington Post. A few years back, she quit her job and moved to Lake Wylie, South Carolina, for a little peace and quiet. She got a whole lot more, but she had to give up some of the perks that come with big city life, like good coffee.

Ms. PATRICE GAINES (Former Reporter, Washington Post): Before closing on my house in Lake Wylie, I clocked the distance to the closest Starbucks. It was eight miles, a bit far to drive in a day's pre-caffeine state I thought. The distance honestly concerned me.

As a city girl, I had come to expect a Starbucks on every corner. But shortly after moving into my development off River Hills, my neighbor Martha(ph) took me to Local Motion Bar and Grill for breakfast. This is a place that has happy hour in the evening, but in the morning, they drape the pool table with a plastic cover, stop the twirling disco ball, and fire up the grill for some bacon and eggs. The sign over the door makes sure I know this is, quote, "where locals meet." And it's true. I can't say I'm a regular, but I do run into neighbors whenever I drop in.

On a recent Saturday morning, my sister Carol(ph) and I stopped by for grits and coffee. And a few leather-faced men sat at the bar already nursing beers. Here, the smoking section is the entire restaurant. Budweiser lamps hang over the bar. One TV set is tuned to ESPN. Another TV, believe it or not, is on a kid's show, "That's So Raven."

A man at the bar turns to a woman and says, so what are you going to do? Sue me? Everybody else does. At a table nearby, a little girl sips chocolate milk. It's the kind of place where dreams can coexist peacefully from one table to the next.

Tom Schneider(ph), the owner, comes out of the kitchen to say hi. He puffs on a Winston with his Gerber baby face and describes Local Motion as, cheers with food. You pretty much know who's coming in. When you see them coming, you know what to get them, he says. Our motto is: We don't have a town drunk, we all take turns, but we also make sure everybody gets home safe.

Our waitress, Carla(ph), wears jean shorts, not the show-you-booty type, but the kind that a practical woman wears for comfort.

I order grits and eggs over-easy, smoked sausage and biscuits. Carol orders the same, except she likes her eggs scrambled.

My neighbor Carl Gullick(ph) is at a table talking with a local couple, a South Carolina state representative, he comes in for breakfast whenever he's home. The men at the bar have formed a group called the Liars Club, he tells me, and he encourages me to join. Come on, it's not hard to be a member, he says, laughing. I don't know that I drop into Local Motion quite enough to join the club, but I do know they built a Starbucks closer to my house now, and I have no desire to check it out.

Occasionally, I'm sure, I want to sit in a trendy cookie-cutter chain cafe and order a tazo chai latte and a lemon poppy seed muffin. Most of the time, though, Tom Schneider's coffee suits me just fine. And those fluffy, white flower biscuits and grits, well, they're downright addictive.

CHIDEYA: That was author and journalist Patrice Gaines with this week's Snapshot. She told her story from member station WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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