Stories From My Cafe Days

He used to walk in! Doesn’t talk much! Beside the casual ‘hello’, there were hardly any words spoken!

They used to all be busy working at that little coffee shop! The adjacent roomier roasting room however, was usually quieter, except you could hardly find anyone actually working there unless a roasting session is taking place!

Her staff noticed him quietly watching the roasting process unfold! They exchanged looks, and made stories about him in their heads, ready to be exchanged when the line of the waiting customers, gets shorter! Again, he was his usual extremely quiet self.

Witnessing raw green beans dance inside the drum, was indeed mesmerizing to some folks passing by! The green colour slowly changing to cinnamon, then getting darker and darker until it reaches that heavenly brown colour!

The roaster’s back, as usual, intentionally facing customers! The roasting process requires full attention! No room for casual chats. But the reason her staff told her about this specific customer being there, was due to the mind blowing amount of coffee he used to purchase! 10 bl of freshly roasted coffee beans every 2 weeks! Who does that? Does he take it to his work? Does he live in a commune?! Is he a modern hip vampire who drinks coffee versus blood? So many questions!

One day, she was ‘stationed’ behind the espresso machine! He’s waiting for his latte across! He usually switched back and forth between a latte and a double shot espresso! He was closer than usual this time around, again…quietly watching his drink getting prepared!

His steel blue eyes had this intense look! As if he’s angry about something! In a way, the look was a bit..intimidating! Intense and intimidating!

Again, no words were spoken. And she was way too busy to look up again! Or may be she was avoiding this intimidating ‘strange’ figure across the bar!

One day, the intimidating 10 lb coffee purchaser appeared! He was wearing a military uniform! With a CWO badge!!!!!!!! No wonder they all thought he was intimidating all this time!

Her staff, immediately exchanged an ‘oh-my-gosh’ look as they spotted him entering in a slow motion through the door! He’s usually very fast in his steps, but somehow this time around, their eyes hit freeze/stop, then slowly hit play, then freeze again..then play again…all while he was slowwwwly approaching them!

After he ordered his 10 lb of coffee along his usual drink, he stepped to the side waiting for it to be ready! Again he was quietly but attentively watching his espresso being made! His military uniform, actually made him look ‘less’ intimidating to ‘her’! Yes very strange indeed!

She decided to ask him about his service! He briefly ‘but very willingly’ mentioned 3 tours. Yugoslavia twice. Afghanistan once.

His steel blue eyes, still intense, but much less intimidating now! He actually…smiled! ….’whaaaat..!!!’ He is actually capable of cracking up a smile? You mean he actually does…smile?!!! Whoa! THAT was unexpected!

As she got to know him! As she asked questions about the brutality of war in those places he served at! She started to learn more and more, about war, about the ‘people’ in those places of past and current war! His opinions shocked her! Especially when he sadly and quietly smiled at one point, and said ‘don’t say it will never happen ‘Here’! People..are…people’! The rest was for her to read through…

Her Tired Mask

Her eyes opened. ‘Bad night sleep’ was the first thought that crossed her mind.

No she didn’t sleep well last night. Was not good. Was it too much coffee late in the day?! Was it going for a run in the early evening on that lonely trail full of the smell of fall?! That smell that everyone loves and usually describes with a romantic smile and gazing eyes! The one that she’s been trying to love all her life but she’s still not quite there…!

Ironically, she looks down at the dark velvety coffee face inside her cup, clutched close to her chest. ‘Coffee! What would I do without you?!…How would I reconcile with my achy brain?! If it wasn’t for you?!!?’

Today is a work day. It’s Monday. Shelves at the grocery store needs restocking with freshly roasted coffee. Invoices need to get dropped off. Online ordering sorted out…

Most of her tasks are done alone! Even working at her little coffee roasting lab, is yet another solitary job!

There are a lot of days, where she can focus on the positive, giggle her way throughout, especially when her spouse returns home at the end of the day! She’s not one to burden…others.

She is also one who loves to laugh, and who doesn’t forget the sad truth about the brevity of life, which usually causes her to want to laugh carelessly even more and more, at any given chance! These are all good things!

A giver by nature; yet a very very lousy and stingy receiver! Mostly due to her proud and private nature!

So how dare she complain?!

She dare not complain. She dare not share the heavy loneliness in the heart! No one will ever understand.

People’s reaction to her lifestyle, especially urbanites, usually takes on the shape of a colourful rainbow of admiration, laced with a bluish greyish halo of semi-hidden envy. They simply want to see, a romantic picture of a self employed woman swimming in a blissful utopian sea of freedom! They can’t see her inside! It’s extraneous to what they want to actually see! They will at best, spot an invalid sense of..well….tedium!

Combine that with a life long tendency to shy away from even ‘valid’ complaining, and you will be able to see a person who keeps a lot of feelings to herself.

She is feeling anxious as she looks at her watch!

She is still not used to letting her mask down ‘here’!

Then why is she writing all these private things for the world to see, you may ask!

Well…the honest answer to this will be, something like this: She’s trying it out! She’s trying to find out, if being honest ‘here’, is going to help her figure herself out! If opening the usually tightly shut little window in her chest, and setting those burdened imprisoned white doves called thoughts, free, is going to help her chest feel lighter!

Notice she said ‘thoughts’! She didn’t say ‘feelings’! It’s intentional. It’s an attempt to protect her from the anger of the dark towery figure, called Logic! The one that keeps pounding its bony fist, on a table in front of her! A table constructed of wood and all …her thoughts! Asking her ‘what for?!’

-Personal sketch. me, protecting me, from me.

‘Human Connection! It’s Beautiful’

attractive bar barista breakfast
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‘A story from the coffeeshop days that I miss’

It was 3:35 in the afternoon, at a busy Third Wave coffee shop, where jolly happy coffee lovers waited inline. Some smiling. Some -those serious espresso cravers- looked through their under-caffeinated eyes, trying to hide their impatience and pretending they are calm ‘too’ and ‘quite understanding’ of how the perfect shot of espresso needed to be, properly dosed, perfectly tamped and skilfully put through the machine that was making its familiar glorious clicking sound. They all waited, all watching the golden caramel shot of espresso pours through into the little espresso cup placed underneath.
One of the baristas behind the counter exchanges a welcoming gesture with the customers who were lining up. Her eyes suddenly stops at a new friendly face. A new customer in her early thirties. A face whom she has not seen at the shop before, and as she blurts a casual friendly comment ‘cool necklace’, and before she could bring her eyes back to watch the milk pitcher in her hand while frothing foam for the next drink, she catches a sudden shadowy dark glare in her new customer’s eyes, that she could not quickly ignore. She taps her milk pitcher on the counter a couple of times, to settle in the bubbles forming in the foam! She looks at the new customer again, only to find tears starting to form in those previously smiling eyes! Again, she feels she cannot just ignore what she had noticed and feels rather compelled to acknowledge it and make sure the new customer is feeling ok!
While trying to not have her voice heard to the the rest of the buzzing crowd, and taking advantage of her close proximity to the tearful face across her roaring espresso machine, she asks “is everything alright?”…A pause followed, and the woman -now facing her as she moved closer- responds “sorry! just a sad memory associated with my necklace!”.
At that point, the tears on the woman’s face were starting to come down. The woman looked embarrassed at her reaction, and the barista made a split second decision to desert her bar, ask another barista to take over and walked around the counter towards the woman and quietly gave her a hug! The woman, to more of her surprise, buried her face in her shoulder like one would do with an old friend, as if…to hide. They hugged quietly until the woman was able to compose herself and forced a smile. The barista feeling concerned but acting rather calm and encouraging, looked into the woman’s eyes and said “you ok?”. The woman nervously shrugged and said “thank you for saving me from sobbing in public!”. Then she pointed at her necklace and said quietly “this is a twin necklace to a one that my best friend was wearing when her and I were skiing over a year ago! There was an avalanche! She died! I survived!”. The barista trying to hide a horrified look, gave encouraging words “I am so sorry to hear that! Sorry about the sad reminder!”. The woman smiled sadly again and responded “I am a firefighter! ….I usually know how to stay composed :)! However, thank you for letting me grief without making a fool of myself! That thankfully does not happen often. I don’t easily break down and cry!”.

Form that day on, Jen who became a regular, would come regularly, order her latte and smile at the barista behind the counter! And a new friendship started.

“I used to be the owner of that little coffeeshop…’True Story’.

Life…

 

I moved to a beautiful place less than a year ago! I am surrounded by tall trees. I can see the creek from my kitchen window. My house is ‘different’ and still doesn’t feel like ..home. I gave up on the idea of sharing my thoughts with people that have been to my new home! It is hard for anyone -as I quickly realized-to see beyond the beauty all around! And I have come to understand that fact, and cannot blame them for falling in love with what they see when they first come here, after all… I fell in love with it when I first saw it too… hence, here I am almost a year later, yet still trying to adjust.

Life is really funny! We dream, we get or don’t, but sometimes…when we do get, we discover, even dreams coming true need adjustment!

Moving from the city when you lived there all your life, is definitely a big change!
You quickly learn things about yourself. Things like, your idea of heavenly solitude, away from society and people, away from the noise, away from the busyness of life, was, a little bit naïve, ironically idealistic and dreamy at the same time! You have thought of yourself as ‘an introvert’. You sold your house in the city and moved 40 minutes away to an oasis in the middle of nature!  Q….U…I…E…T!   The dog is snoring away happily, you? staring at her wondering ‘is she dreaming about those off leash dog walks her and I used to take everyday in the city?!… Or is she happier here with no companions except I!  No car rides, just watching the random squirrel jumping in the forest through the glass door and ‘testing’ her doggy voice with an attempt at a confused bark every now and then?’

I make my first morning french press…and a smile emerges :)…

No doubt I am still adjusting to no humans around in a quiet house surrounded by trees and a creek versus concrete buildings and urban structures, but…I am going to make the best of it one way or another…I am going to create ‘life’ one way or another right here…I am not a farmer, in fact, I have no idea how to grow a basil plant! On top of that, I missed my first season of actually growing anything this year, and fall is here! But, there is always next year, next season and a new … chance. And if that doesn’t work, I will figure something else out.

-Cheers to coffee and life-