December 14, 2012

Some Sappy Kumbaya Stuff

I sat in a chair and drank very small amounts of Sumatra from a ceramic demitasse, feet not quite up on the counter, decidedly not working. There was a man behind me in a blue who looked in every way like a mechanic, only he was working on my espresso machine, which was broken. People approached the counter and I told them the news; they reacted in the variety of ways you would expect. Some were apathetic, others borderline distraught. 

It is very nice to be a consistent highlight in someone's day - right up until that point where you aren't. Then the responsibility weighs on you and, no matter how much you know this shit just happens, there is an pervading feeling of impotence. Sure, there is nothing to be done - but that's the point. Being powerless to fix such a crucial problem sucks, nearly as much as disappointing loyal customers does. 

Things are fine now. Things were fine soon after, really; the time between the break and the fixing was only about 3 hours. The repair guy did his job and was awesome, as he usually is. He managed to fix the whole deal without requiring me to buy a new part, saving me nearly $500. When you're shop is a fairly low cost, low volume operation, that's huge savings. Obviously. 

So that's two guys I've managed to mention in the last few days - the espresso machine repair guy and the milk guy - without whom I'd be some degree of fucked. And I don't mean to say merely that someone who does their job is essential - although that's true; they are themselves lifesavers, consistently nice people who do great work for me - even if it means losing money. (God, that was some weird punctuation in that sentence, huh?)

It's that kind of service I aspire to, not just in work, but in life. I don't believe in any sort of cosmic meritocracy, nor do I think any positive actions guarantee you'll be rewarded; but worrying about that is missing the point anyway. Doing good work is rewarding for its own sake, and damn, it can go a long way towards making someone else's life better. 

And the chain doesn't stop at one link.

Because espresso repair guy fixed my machine so rapidly, I was able to get back to making drinks - even catching the most disappointed of the earlier customers in time. In short: He made my day better, which allowed me to make a few other people's days better. Not to get all "We Are the World" or anything, but yeah, maybe I will just a little. 

There really are, for all of the awful things we read about and see presented to us ever day, nice people doing things that nice people do. They are not saving the world or curing cancer but they are providing their own small scale salvation, working as they do and as they can to enrich the lives they come in contact with. 

And I am saying that that, more than anything else, is the ideal behind our profession. Make good coffee, yes, but be a good person too. You never know how much it might matter. 

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