Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Arches Wisdom Club

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

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Whenever Ruth and I are out photographing for the day, we are often in areas where there are no restrooms. Sometimes that means finding an outhouse somewhere, which wouldn’t be our first choice. So, whenever we get near a town or city, we often take the opportunity to find a restroom. Usually, it’s at a gas station, but sometimes we stop at McDonald’s.

A couple years ago, in the late afternoon, we stopped at a McDonald’s, went in and used the restroom, and then went back to the car. I started the car and, as Ruth and I were discussing where we would go next, the following conversation took place.

Ruth, motioning toward the building with her head: “Check that out.”

Joann: “Check what out?”

Ruth: “That.” And again, she motioned with her head to get me to notice that there were three older gentlemen sitting by the window in McDonald’s and they were all looking intently at us and having quite a discussion.

Joann: “What do you think they’re talking about?”

Ruth: “I think they’re trying to figure out what our license plate stands for.”

Joann: “That’s pretty cute.”

Ruth: “I think you should go in and explain it to them.”

Joann: “Really?”

Ruth: “Yeah, why not?”

Joann: “Okay, I’ll be right back.”

So I jumped out of the car and went in and introduced myself to the group. I asked them if they were wondering what “SHNPKR” stands for and they eagerly listened to me as I explained that it stands for Shunpiker, which is a person who avoids the turnpikes and travels the back roads. After quite a discussion about that, I asked them about their little group.

They happily explained that they call themselves “The Arches Wisdom Club” and they meet twice a day, at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. I asked them what kind of wisdom they share with each other. The gentleman who looked like he was the most senior member of the group said, “We’ll tell you who to vote for, who to pray for…” and then he laughed, while the rest of the club members smiled and nodded.

I was having a lot of fun talking to this group of “wise guys,” but I knew Ruth was probably thinking maybe she shouldn’t have sent me back in because we had places we wanted to explore yet that day. So I thanked them for the lively conversation and headed back to the car with a big smile on my face.

I’ll end this story with a little McDonald’s drive-thru humor from Hampton, Iowa.

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Happy Shunpiking!


  1. What a fun story! Great idea to have Joann go back in to talk to those guys, Ruth!

    1. Thanks, Phyllis. Sometimes I get into long-winded conversations with people I meet on the road and we get behind in our schedule of things we are intending to capture that day. But the advantage is that the conversations are often the basis for a good story in this blog.

  2. Marvelous as always! Love the Drive-Thru Humor! <3

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! The drive-thru humor cracked me up when I saw it.