“Where were you when you heard the news?” Only a few historical events evoke that question, events of such magnitude that people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time. The bombing of Pearl Harbor. The assassination of JFK. The attack on the Twin Towers.

And now there’s another one.

The death of Prince won’t be in the history books in the same way as those other events, but – especially for Minnesotans, and in particular those of us living in or around Chanhassen – the memory of where we were and what we were doing will likely be just as powerful.

I had lunch last Thursday with a former coaching client who is now a friend that I get together with every so often. She lives in St. Paul, so our usual meeting place is a restaurant near 50th and France. I was mildly annoyed when I got to the restaurant because the entrance into the parking lot was blocked by a bus that was unloading a large group of people, all going to the same restaurant.

I drove around the block, and entered the parking lot from the back entrance. My friend was already at the restaurant, and as we settled into a booth, the wait staff was busy pushing tables together to form a single, long table for the new group.

We chatted with a few of the people as they sat down, and discovered this was a social group that traveled regularly to different parts of the state, visiting local attractions and places of interest. I’m not sure what they were visiting that day, but they were certainly excited about it. My friend and I quickly realized that unless we shouted at each other, we would be unable to hear each other over the loud conversations and laughter of the group. So we packed up and relocated to another booth on the other side of the restaurant. Finally, we were able to settle in and enjoy our lunch and each other’s company.

As we got up to leave an hour later, the people in the large group were also on their way out, and they completely filled the lobby area.

“Oh, great,” I thought. Again I was going to be slowed down and inconvenienced by this group, waiting for all of them to leave before I could get out the door. That’s when I realized no one was actually leaving. They were all facing away from the door, and were mesmerized by something on the TV that was mounted on the wall above the lunch counter. As I glanced at the screen, it was immediately apparent that someone famous had just died.

“Who is it?” I asked of the person standing closest to me.

She turned to me, eyes wide and a look of disbelief on her face.

“Prince,” she said.

And that’s how I heard the news.

I drove home feeling stunned and shocked. I’m sure the bus ride home was a lot quieter for the cheerful, bubbly group traveling that day, and that this was a trip they’d always remember.

Where were you when you heard the news?

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 28, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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