“Believe me when I tell you: Life will not break your heart, it’ll crush it.”
Once again I find myself at the end of something; in a place of transition. Changes are happening at the coffee shop I’ve frequented for the past 8-9 years. The new manager is making stupid decisions, relocating and firing some of the best, most hard working people on such tenuous grounds that it seems impossible to not see it as a personal vendetta.
One of the people who has to go happens to be one of my best friends, and her case in particular has been handled with such sloppiness that I simply cannot ignore it. Now, I have a choice to make. Do I continue to give the coffee shop my – not insignificant – business, or do I find another way to get my caffeine fix? I’m leaning toward the latter.
For one, having already lost four of my favorite baristas and now losing two more, frequenting the establishment won’t be as joyful as it once was. Also, keeping up a happy face to the manager is not going to happen – my sense of loyalty forbids me – and as a regular it really helps if you get along with the proprietor. But it’s not an easy choice to make.
Coffee shops hold a very special place in modern life.
For the creative of us, they have become nearly religion – I know many people who work out of them, balancing privacy and social life, income and expense, familiarity and change of scenery. They are so much more than a place to go buy coffee – they are a place for dates, pit stops during busy days, breaks and relaxations, study and work. They are life and romance and friendship.
Back when coffee first reached Europe, men would go to coffee shops to discuss politics and business and philosophy. In the 19th century, they increasingly became the gathering place for local artists and writers – along with pubs and cafés that served absinth, of course. Many artists and thinkers have turned to coffee as their drug of choice over the centuries – Voltaire and Balzac are reported to have imbibed over 50 cups a day, at their worst (or their best, maybe), and both Bach and Beethoven were big coffee drinkers.
This particular coffee shop has really been my home away from home for the past seven years. I’ve seen seven managers and scores of baristas come and go; I’ve made several friends and many more acquaintances; I’m known by staff and regulars alike and I have never once been mistreated. Even though the recent rebuilding took away part of it’s charm, and even though stricter policy from the main office and the new management has further dampened the atmosphere, it is still part of me. I was there first.
At a modest count, I’ve spent over 4,000 hours at that café – talking, writing, drawing, laughing, crying, meeting new people and old friends. I’ve given it more business than I care to admit, but it and its staff have given me so much in return. I know its workings in and out and I’ve even helped out with things on occasion. This current turn of events make me angry, sad, upset and even hurt.
Regardless of where I go now, it will be with a heavy heart.
I do not particularly like change – at least not when it is forced upon me. However, I do realize that it is a necessary part of life – without change there will be no growth, no progress. And we need progress, all of us. And come to think of it…
How much progress in this world has not been fueled by coffee?
- Read- The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee; Honoré de Balzac
- Watch – Coffee and Cigarettes; Jim Jarmusch
- Listen – Have a Nice Day; Mindy McCready