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It was 10 AM when I dropped my car off for an oil change at a garage in Beverly. Before heading to my office four blocks away, I looked around for a place to grab a cup of coffee. The Sunrise Cafe, across the street from the garage and close by the 99th Street Metra station, looked closed, with its shades drawn. But I saw someone go inside and decided to check it out.

One customer (the man I followed in there) was sitting at a table reading a newspaper. The proprietor lounged casually behind the counter, with one eye on the television perched on a high mount. The only sign of food was three doughnuts on a plate.

I ordered a coffee to go, and requested a double cup, explaining that I didn't want to burn my hand. The counterman's response wasn't reassuring: "The coffee's not that hot." I ordered it anyway, and then inquired about his hours of operation. The answer: "I'm open from 5:30 to 8:30 AM, but if you come by after that time and want a cup of coffee, just knock on the door. I'm in here anyway, watching Hunter and The Price Is Right."

--Sheila Malkind

Reader to Reader welcomes (and pays for) anecdotes, overheard conversations, and slices of city life from 20 to 200 words in length. Send yours to Reader to Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611, or E-mail to


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