Sunday, August 7, 2011

Everyday People

So a couple weekends ago, I visited a coffeehouse off the beaten path,
next to old, broken docks that were covered in tattered nets and rusting buoys.  There the fishermen get up before the rooster crows and head out
into a thick fog blanket to trap crab.
Inside the coffeehouse, there was this man, obviously “a local” shooting the breeze with the young woman behind the counter.
I’m retired so I don’t give a goddamn hoot about anything...”   
I was eavesdropping and heard him say.
     “…Wake up in the morning and shoot doves for the helluva it…Man, it’s crowded in here this morning…no parking spaces left…had to drive my truck, 
but next time I’ll ride the motorcycle.”  From his babble, it became crystal clear that he wasn’t. 
     “You the boss?” he barked out at the young twig who had now planted herself behind the espresso machine patiently hoping he’d just order a damn latte.
When she replies in a soft-spoken tongue,  “No, my dad is.” He starts in on a litany about his own dad being the boss of his life…
     ”…Made me work for a living, unlike most of the indigent, illegitimates running around California these days…”   Twiggy smiles politely and continues steaming the 2% milk.

The coffeehouse scene is a lot like the trailer park scene.  I know them both well.
I know this because I managed and owned 2 coffeehouses in my lifetime and I’m probably crazy enough to own another if the opportunity presented itself.  I spent about the same number of years grinding beans and slinging mochas as I did collecting rent checks and cleaning up sewage from the front of mobiles.
The characters that enter through the front door of a coffeehouse are almost as memorable as their stories; told and untold.

There’s the man with the size 52-waist wearing a blue toucan print shirt the size of Canada. His hair is slicked back pompadour style and his jeans are rolled to slightly below his knees.  He orders 4 Bear Claws and a medium milk.  He sings Van Morrison out loud, off-key.

Elaine is perfectly happy as the greeter; “official” only to herself.
She knows about the owner, the owner’s daughter, the pastries, the caramelized onion quiche, and the apple pie, which are her favorites and both “to die for.”
She tells me her life story, in complete detail and rapid runonsentences,
as if she’s reading me the first draft of her memoir. 
She doesn’t miss a beat, saying “Good morning” to every single person who stumbles in the little shop.   As she talks, she arranges the chairs and offers to mop up some spilt half-n-half.  
Elaine is proud to tell me she’s read every single one of Janet Evanovich’s books,
in order, calling it her “addiction.”  She is a fantastic “multi-tasker” as she continues telling me about her mother, her daughter and her years while traveling cross-country with her “ex”, while doing a crossword puzzle, greeting customers and skimming the last paragraph of Chapter 13.

Every morning, Elaine arrives at 5:30.  It’s her routine, and although she says she’s happy and her life’s perfect, there is a certain sadness in Elaine’s eyes.

Space 28’s “addiction” was Judge Judy, Dr. Phil and America’s Most Wanted; a trio that went well with Hot Cheetos and a Dr. Pepper.   I know this because her set was so damn loud I had to turn up Pandora just to ease my mind and fill my head with the Goddess music of Tina Malia. 
Space 28 shared with me the many painful details of her divorce, her doctor putting her on Paxil, then Zoloft, and finally Elavil which seemed to work, her kid getting an abortion before she turned 17, losing her own virginity at a “God-forsaken age”… all in the first 15 minutes of our introduction while the moving company was still unloading her belongings in her carport.
As she grew comfortable to trailer living, she’d make Costco runs with space 30; buying ground beef and frozen hash browns in bulk and splitting
the cost “down the middle.

I ran into Mrs. Beane, space 9, at the library the other morning.  She seemed distant and her face had that look of “I know I know you from somewhere but…” 
I asked her how she and her husband were getting along and she informed me he was “declining rapidly and some days are better than others…”

That got me thinking…Some days ARE better than others; for Mr. Beane, 
for Elaine, for Space 28 and for the man who gets up early to shoot doves.  
Some days are better than others for you and me too. 
And don’t ya know it, but today’s a pretty good one! 
In each of us (no matter where we take off our boots) there is the capacity to recognize all that we have, and all that we are, at any given moment.  
I follow Yoko Ono on Twitter and I suppose the reason is clear:
I hunger for her simplicity.  I never gave her a second look years back;
she, always riding in the shadow of her husband, yet now, every morning I go to yokono on Twitter, rather than Quote Garden, for my morning inspiration. 
She’s always there, never failing me,
with words like:               dream             grow           dance

And addictive mantras like:
"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb, for that's where the fruit is..."

I get the sense, she’s just everyday people.
I get the sense, we are all just swimming to the other side together.
May today’s writing, inspire you to take notice, to go out on that limb, to taste all the fruit.


  1. I wanted to read this before I had to leave the house. I was rushing thru it then it happened again. Your words made me slow down and savor each one with relish. I was taken to the coffee house on the pier. And it made me pause and take a breath to think of Yoko and her simple words.
    I love it Val!

  2. luscious deliciousness! transported to the smell of wood on a pier. what a simple and delightful gift to read your beautiful words.
    I love it TOO!