Friday, May 25, 2007

Man with a full plate

So there we were sitting at the surgery center, sipping down a cup of complimentary Cain's hot cocoa and watching the Weather Stud on the huge flat panel on the waiting room wall warn us about the intense thunderstorm we had just driven 27 miles through to make our 6 a.m. appointment (whew), when nearby us plants a docile looking couple on the sofa catty corner to ours.

The Man (we'll call him Edgar) pulls out a ceramic mug adorned with the logo of a tractor dealership on the outside and a well earned ring-around-the-rim coffee stain on the inside, and pours himself some coffee from a gleaming stainless steel thermos.

His actions are thoughtful and practiced and not a drop of the hot rust colored liquid finds it way onto the wall-to-wall plush beneath our feet.

Edgar eyes me doting lackadaisically on my syrofoam cup, swallows his sip and says,
E - You a coffee drinker?
Me - Not an addict by any means, but I enjoy a cup now and again.
E - This is my own blend. I grind it myself. Took awhile to find the right combination of beans and the right amount, but I finally got it the way I like it and now it's all I drink.
Me - You carry that thermos with you everywhere?
E - Yep, even when we go out to eat. Gets some funny looks from the waiters.
Me - I'll bet. You ever walk into Starbucks carrying your own coffee you'll probably get arrested.
E - Yeah, I tried their beans once...wasn't all that happy. This here is a mixture of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend, Biff's Columbian Supremo - they're an outfit in Arkansas, but you can buy them here in town at United, and some good Okie Cain's. We got this machine that grinds the beans, cooks it up and keeps it warm for us.

At this point he offered me his sacred thermos, which I hesitantly but graciously declined, citing some obscure nonsensical reason having to do with the half drunk cup of packaged cocoa I was still working on and my desire to remain coffee free for the duration of our daughter's surgery.

Having written all this down now, in hindsight, I should have scrambled to get a new cup and taken up Edgar on his offer -- for a lot more reasons that my desire to just have a good cup of coffee.

After a few more stanzas of lively conversation, we found out that Edgar had a full time gig at the local Air Force Base, was owner and operator of an heat and air business, and ran about 50 head of cows on his property.

He seemed a little tickled when I asked him how he managed to wear all those hats and still find time to watch American Idol (another tidbit of trivial revealed during his 2nd cupful).

Edgar took another satisfying sip of his special blend, sighed and said, "Long as what goes in comes out, I figure there's not much else I should be frettin' about."

And no, I never did find out what Edgar and his wife were there at the surgery center for. I turned down a cup of the man's coffee -- I wasn't about to ask him what they were in for.

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