Yesterday was coffee delivery day.
I usually do not have interactions with my coffee customers, and it’s all part of the plan. My plan, to keep the process as simple and efficient as possible. I basically stick to do all deliveries in one area of the city that I can manoeuvre my way around easily, and I drop off the coffee packages at door steps. The rest, gets mailed.
Recycled craft bags are usually left there for me, once a month, to collect and reuse.
Efficiency, sustainability and no ‘visiting’.
The look on my coffee customers’ faces, 5 years ago_when I basically decided to put a makeshift and poorly designed e/commerce website together, so they can continue to order the coffee beans online, after closing down my café and my roasting facility_ was priceless! ‘Stir away from all windows! If I spot you, I will turn around and no coffee haha’!
My wonderful coffee customers? Complied.
I can count on my fingers, how many times in the past, I did actually have to exchange a few words of ‘How’ve you been?! Etc etc’, with my customers.
Then there came yesterday!
As I was flying down the 5 steps at the front of a customer’s house, heading back to my car, and the one coffee package was all dropped off, I heard a voice behind me.
But by then, I was already at my car. Yet there he was, taking careful steps down on a chilly (still considered winter) February day.
His usual wide lighthearted smile…brought me back, to the first time we met, 10 years ago. He was rubbing the sides of his coat-less forearms to warm up.
– – – –
Fast backwards 10 years ago…
It was my very first day, at my coffee booth, in a new Farmers’ Market in the city.
Samuel, was wearing a patterned NewZealand woollen sweater. The sweater was beautiful! He stood in front of my counter facing me, and questioned every detail about the coffee.
He was skeptical. It was very obvious, that I was at the company of a serious coffee fanatic, and I ‘was’ one too! So imagine my joy, explaining all those nerdy coffee nuances!
Samuel, purchased only 2 lb. He still did not trust my expertise, and wanted to try the coffee first. Which, I respected, and was in fact delighted by. I was already confident in my coffee roasting abilities. I knew if I did it right, he will be back after he tries it.
Samuel did come back. And our deep friendship began.
A year later, I moved into my much bigger ‘prominent’ spot at that same Farmers’ Market.
Then after I became the actual main Café in that market, Samuel, on a certain day of the week, would pickup his coffee beans, and I used to let another barista take over, and I used to sit down with him over a cappuccino and talk books, design, etc.
Samuel is an author and also owned a printing company, so the conversation was always, rich and enjoyable. After all, I was a graphic designer, who had dumped all her design projects into a compartment at the back of her tired designer brain, and was in the process of forging a new entrepreneurial path.
In those days, and first years, my design appetite, and design sense, was still strong. However, I was slowly, weaning myself off the sweet taste of fonts, typefaces, codes, editorial design projects, corporate branding and thrilling intense web design adventures. So any conversation to bring me back to who I used to be, was a nostalgic one perhaps, yet a happy one at the same time.
Yesterday, Samuel looked…frail.
The years have passed, and I couldn’t help, but stare at the signs of time on his face. His hair, all white now too.
I think I could detect a sense of joy in his eyes, in his usual big wide smile, but…it all felt…incredibly sad. Why?! He’s just not the same. The frailty of life caught up with him. And I believe, the fact, Samuel was never keen on the idea of exercise, must’ve accelerated his health deterioration.
How does it make ‘any’ sense?! Could someone ever answer that question for me, without the usual regurgitation of ‘helpless acceptance and forced wisdom’, or the patronizing deniability of the sadness of it all really…!
I will never understand it. I will never, accept it. It will always infuriate me.