Road snapshot: 9/11, Waterbury, Vt.


Sept. 11, Waterbury, Vermont – After another late night at the Golden Arches Cafe, I again bunked for the night at the Price Chopper supermarket on Shelburne Road.
Not before purchasing a $2.99 DVD copy of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” It’s a riveting film, but I fell asleep in the middle of it anyway.
I rolled out of  bed after 11 and shuffled into the store for a cup of coffee and a salt bagel. Then I pulled up anchor and pushed off from the Burlington area. I needed to move eastward, because I had grown too attached to Burlington, so I got on I-89 for a couple exits just to ensure I made a safe getaway.
Moose crossing signs started to pop up on the roadside. Rain is falling and casting a dreary veil over the Green Mountains. Through the gloom you can see Vermont’s getting ready to pop. In two weeks, it will be an autumnal wonderland around here.
I traded in the interstate for U.S. 2 and stopped in Waterbury, which I soon learned is home to the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Empire. While their trucks and signs bear the GMCR logo, Wikipedia tells me the company is now known as Keurig Green Mountain. The entry also reports that GMCR was ranked No. 1 among “The Best Corporate Citizens” in 2006 and 2007.
Since 2007, Green Mountain has become awash in a river of gold. First were the reciprocal deals with Starbucks. Then came Coca-Cola, which now owns a 16-percent share of Keurig Green Mountain. The moral of this story is, well, you shouldn’t expect too much good citizenry these days.
Green Mountain Keurig Coffee Roasters International had a headlock on Waterbury. It built its own visitors center in the old Waterbury train depot (which still serves as an Amtrak station), fronting the company’s sprawling headquarters.
I parked behind the visitors center and took a peek inside. I wish I hadn’t. There are a series of high-tech video screens where visitors can take a “sensory journey.” Along the way, you can uncover your own “coffee personality.” I declined the opportunity. I’m not all that enamored with my human personality, and I shudder to imagine what my coffee personality might look like.
Instead I walked along Main Street to see what else Waterbury has going on. The Green Mountain Keurig Coffee Roasters vibe radiates in all directions. There’s a couple tap rooms, a wine bar, a craft beer cellar and a bar-restaurant called the Prohibition Pig.
As you can see from the photo above, the remnants of Waterbury’s blue-collar mill culture haven’t been liquidated entirely. I mean, look at that supersized American flag dangling above Main Street from a Waterbury firetruck boom. Signs on the adjacent Waterbury Service Center promise to never forget 9/11 and support our troops.
I don’t have much to say about all that. I’ve never been a fan of the conspicuous display of patriotism thing. I don’t understand how one can measure a man’s patriotism by the size of his flag.
I stopped in at the Bridgeside Bookstore on Stowe Street. It’s a nice store, full of intriguing books on Vermont history and culture. Alas, it feels just like you’d expect a Vermont bookstore to feel. The radio was on and tuned to WBUR, Boston’s NPR station. I half expected Click and Clack to walk through the open door brandishing Keurig-GMCR travel mugs and cackling uproariously.
The topic of discussion was the president’s speech about ISIS, which I didn’t catch. An administration apparatchik was faithfully detailing all the reasons why bombing Iraq never goes out of style. It’s always the same. I didn’t stick around for the rebuttal from the other side. The side I voted for is hard enough to stomach.
I suppose I should be relieved to learn we have been and will continue to kill, maim and dismember ISIS terrorists. War being war, it will continue to be necessary to kill, maim and dismember innocent children, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers as well. In this fashion we can continue to create martyrs and, in the end, more terrorists that we will need to kill, maim and dismember.
God bless us, everyone.
I walked outside and finally found someone I could relate to. You don’t know how glad I was to meet you, Gracie the bookstore cat. Gracie didn’t want to talk about ISIS or 9/11. She’d never heard of 9/11, so there’s no chance she’ll ever forget it.
And she doesn’t drink coffee, so she doesn’t have to choose between Keurig Green Mountain, Starbucks or some independent coffee roaster.
She didn’t want to answer my questions, either. She did say she doesn’t care if Waterbury is dominated by upscale-granola-crunchy-self-congratulatory-corporate-savvy liberals or blue-collar-live-free-or-kill-them-all-liberal-hating conservatives. She only wanted to leave her scent on my shins and maybe have the back of her ears scratched a little.
God bless you, Gracie the bookstore cat!


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