Tales from the coffeehouse
Back when I worked for another company, when my daughter was barely reading, and my husband worked second shift, he and I had a weekly tradition of going to the local popular coffeehouse.
This was our time alone. It wasn’t extravagant. It’s wasn’t for very long, but it was OUR time, and ours alone. If it was a day off from school, we would not participate in our tradition, as if it was sacred. This moment every Friday morning was reserved for just us.
We would sit on the porch, amused by the wide array of people-watching opportunities that came up. On one spring morning, we watched a man, whom we’d hoped was coming from a garage sale, carry a large ceramic mushroom down the road. We called him “Mario”. On another morning on this particularly busy road, we witnessed a near-accident.
It was never a dull moment at the coffeehouse.
Somehow over the past year, we lost touch with our little tradition; our quiet moment together, uninterrupted by the words ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’. Then, while on our recent vacation, we made a daily stop at our favorite java dive of the north.
But it wasn’t the same. There was no Mushroom Man. No quirkiness at the 4-way intersection that is in front of the building near our home in Arkansas. Nobody at the shop in Minnesota knew our names nor had our order memorized.
Upon our return home, the husband found a job and Kathryn returned to school. My off-days again made avail the opportunity to pick up our tradition. And so, we did.
We are back at the local coffeehouse where, as usual, there is never a dull moment. We see the same faces, order the same drinks and for the most part, sit in the same spot every Monday morning. Every regular has their own anonymous name:
Pay it Forward Policeman
Officer Pay it Forward is there about the same time we are each morning. This morning, we placed or usual order, reached for our money, and realized it was at home. Embarrassed, I said we’d be back.
“How much is it?” Officer Pay it Forward asked.
“$14,” said the barista.
Officer Pay it Forward paid our tab for us. George and I made a pact to purchase his cup next time he was in.
“Not a Delivery Lady”
Officer Pay it Forward’s (Officer PIF) attention was then redirected to a short older woman on the opposite side of the store who was quite involved with an argument with the Monday edition of the Democrat Gazette.
“She took all our papers,” the same barista told Officer PIF.
“All of them?”
“Yes. This time we saw her do it, but as its not our property we didn’t know what to do.”
Officer PIF approached Ms Not the Delivery Lady and made her pull all 20 editions of today’s paper out of her bag.
“I work for the Democrat Gazette,” I told the barista. “This is entertaining!! And to think “What’s Wrong Now, Kim” isn’t even here yet!!”
The barista lost it.
“What’s Wrong Now Kim”
“Kim’s here,” George mumbled to me five minutes later.
“Ten minutes, tops,” I replied.
In two visits, we had Kim’s personality memorized. On our first visit, she came in at 7:45, placed her order, received it and took a sip. She immediately inquired about the ingredients within her iced coffee, what kind of coffee it was, including what quantity of cream was in it. She took another sip and settled with what she had.
She then asked the baristas about a gift card she had that she wanted to return for a refund. She was declined and was instructed to call the number on the back of the card.
On the second one of our visits, “What’s Wrong Now, Kim”, upon receiving her coffee, requested more cream. Several minutes later, she requested a refill and did not approach the register to pay. The baristas kindly refilled her cup. Kim tasted it, and requested more adjustments to her drink.
On our third visit, we saw that Kim was already out on the porch enjoying her book and frappuccino. Next to her, were two small dogs. HER small dogs. As my husband and I placed our order, we saw her hand her two dogs to a total stranger and then come back into the store. As she approached the counter, a barista automatically asked “What’s wrong with it?” Apparently Kim has the baristas there trained.
So, back to today.
“Ten minutes, tops” I said to George, guessing how long it would be before she made some sort of demand of correction to her drink.
“What’s Wrong Now Kim” purchased her drink and then…
“Wow! Forty-five seconds!” I said to George. “I think that’s a record!”
Our re-discovered tradition is still without lull. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Just him, me, and our quirky take on the world. Maybe tomorrow we’ll return and Officer Pay It Forward will be there. I hope so. I owe him a couple of coffees.
Maybe I can introduce Ms Not A Delivery Lady to our recycle bin at work. She’d probably think it’s Utopia.
What’s Wrong Now Kim will be there at 7:45 on the dot. Maybe she’ll bring her cat next time.