Fake News at Caribou Coffee

So I was at a local Caribou Coffee writing with my good friend, Judy Kerr, in Monticello, Minnesota a few days ago. Before I continue, a little back story is needed here. Caribou is one of my go-to places to write. It’s welcoming, relaxed, and has great hot chocolate, because of course, I don’t drink coffee. Caribou started in a suburb of Minneapolis, and now boasts shops in a number of states and in countries overseas. The company is known for embracing diversity and acceptance, one of the many reasons I love it.

One of the things Caribou does to try and connect with its clientele in each of their stores is something called Chalk Thoughts, a wall painted with chalkboard paint. Every week a question is written at the top, and customers are invited to leave their thoughts on the board.

On this particular day, the chalkboard had been cleaned and a new prompt written on the top. My back was to the board, which was perpendicular to us. and Judy sat opposite me, facing that perpendicular wall. I was busy writing, and something made me glance up to see Judy staring intently over my shoulder, and the guy at the table beside us mesmerized at something behind me as well.

She said, “I want to see what that guy wrote.”

I said, “What are you talking about?” She pointed at the board. “Some guy just came in here and wrote something then spun on his heel and walked out. You should have seen the look on his face. It was twisted, and he looked furious. At the door he glanced back with a glare that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.”

So I walked over and looked. Written in dark red chalk was an ode to Trump and a vile, nonfactual comment on Obama’s heritage and birth. Someone must have notified the staff, because within just two or three minutes someone was out washing off what had been written. They had to wash it more than once to remove the ghosting of the letters.

Now, Monticello is halfway between Minneapolis and the small town where I now live. I wouldn’t have been surprised if something similar happened in my town, since a couple months ago our main street was papered with hate posters thanks to a local white supremacist group. I know that action and this man’s red-chalk rant is barely a blip on the Hatred Spewing Spectrum, but it’s a grim reminder that it’s out there. It’s subversive, it’s sad, and in this case, it’s an escalation. This guy might have had those thoughts in his head for some time. But he upped his game  by making a public statement in such a way. For this dude, who was filled with enough hate to do this, what’s next? Is he going to come back there and shoot up the joint? Shoot up some other place? Continue to spread his cancerous attitude to his children, to his family and friends—because I’m sure he is already doing that. It’s horrible that one thought can lead to another and pretty soon you’re wondering about your own personal safety and the safety of the community this man calls home. Trump has given permission for people like this to creep out of the woodwork and taint the greatness that is the United States of America. However, united isn’t what we are, not by a long shot. Maybe our country should be called the Contentious States of America.

This act furthered my resolve to continue to write the books I write, to continue to speak out, speak up, and do my part to share my experiences of inclusion, diversity, and understanding in a world that’s lost its mind. One book, one reader, one moment in time can be the change we want to see. No, it can be the change we NEED to see. Keep reading, keep writing if that’s what you do, and keep living your lives out loud and proud. I know I don’t usually do serious blogs, but here you go.

Peace and love to everyone.








  1. Thanks, Jess, and beautifully written—I was *in* that coffee shop as I was reading. My warm hands wrapped around my coffee cup grew cold. Stay alert but stay proud, and yes, writers must keep writing and readers keep reading. If history repeats itself (and it most certainly does), we are most likely in for more rough times, but it will turn around. Thanks, Jessie!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the comments everybody! Mercedes, absolutely! It is very scary. Mary Beth, You are very right. But that feeling can’t stop us from going out and about, going places, and attending functions. TT, Thank you for your kind words, and I think you’re right!


  3. So well stated. I had a similar experience walking in to a Kwik Trip on the interstate between MN and WI. As I walked up to the door a woman was coming out – total Mom/Grandma vibe with elastic waist blue jean pants, tucked in tshirt and home permed greying hair. Front and center on that tshirt was an outline of the US with the words “F*ck OFF. We’re Full”. I turned around and left. That is what scares me. Those everyday “normal” people with such hate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Virginia, I can totally see this happening and I’ll bet I know which Kwik Trip, if you happened to be in Hudson. What a great, sad description of Grandma Hate. It’s shocking how you think someone is a regular everyday kind of person and they turn out to be some kind of crazy ass wingnut. It’s like how so many murderers or serial killers look like your average Joe…oh, he didn’t LOOK like he’d kill someone. These people are you or me or our neighbors…like you said, everyday “normal” people with such hate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Things like that catch me unawares more often lately. I live in small town MN too (Buffalo). I go about my business living in my own little bubble. I’ll be talking with a co-worker who I have no reason to doubt is a reasonable and intelligent person when they will let loose with a racist homophobic rant. What? Calm as you please they look at me like, “of course you agree.” That fact that there is all this vitriolic sewage brewing in folks is stunning enough but for them to consider their hate to be so commonplace and reasonable that everyone they encounter of course thinks the same way they do leaves me speechless. I have to physically step away.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sadly, the UK is hardly better in some parts these days. It’s not so much that there are more people spewing hatred, as that those people feel more entitled to spew hatred than they did before the Brexit vote.

    Then there are al the microagressions, some from otherwise quite reasonable people, that some days I really can’t be bothered to argue with yet again (it’s the same stuff over and over, because obviously being bisexual and not currently in a relationship makes me invisible).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stevie, yes I can totally see where you are coming from. It’s very difficult to be among the “Invisible” and deal with all of the microagressions, as you so aptly term it. Thank you for sharing and being you.


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