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One of the small tragedies of travel is encountering a cute restaurant when you're not quite hungry or it's too early for dinner or the place has already closed for the night. I often stop to gaze into the windows of such places, then look longingly over my shoulder as I drive away. It's the curse of the road trip. You get one dinner per day, and you can't control where you'll be when meal time arrives.

This happened again tonight when I stumbled upon Mick's B.B.Q. in Reidsville, Georgia. It was too early for dinner, and while I was dying to sample a Mick's pulled pork sandwich, there was no choice but to keep on moving. Right?

But this time a wave of defiance washed over me. So what if I'm not hungry, I thought to myself, I'm going to eat anyway! I strode up to the front door, fully anticipating the culinary delights I'd find inside, but ... the door didn't budge. Mick's was closed.

I shuffled back to the car kicking at pebbles. Mick's was not to be. I stared at Mick's like a dog peering into an empty dish, noticed a phone number painted on the front window. Perhaps I could convince Mick to slip me some pulled pork out back in the alley. I dialed up the number. It rang and rang and eventually went to a machine, and then I heard the gentle voice of what sounded like an elderly black man--Mick, I presume. In a friendly voice, Mick thanked me for calling, ran through the store hours, then concluded the message by saying, "May God bless you. Have a blessed day." It was a thoroughly winning message, and the legend of Mick had grown larger still.

I pulled back onto the road reluctantly, stealing a final glance at Mick's in the rearview. Some day, Mick, some day.

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Mick's B.B.Q.
March 2005