This content was published first in The Sunday Letters Journal: https://sundayletters.larrygmaguire.com/p/the-coffee-man by Larry G. Maguire on Thu, 13 Apr 2023 14:28:39 GMT
The Bald Barista is a coffee shop on Aungier Street in Dublin. It’s a small place with seating for about 20 people and a somewhat inefficiently arranged service area to the front. Inefficient because takeaway customers don’t have a reliable flow space in which to order and wait for their coffee. For this reason, I’m a little turned off.
But that’s more than made up for by the ever-pleasant, more-bald-than-me Ausie making my coffee. The space wasn’t so chaotic this morning at 09:55, so we had time and space for a quick chat. He chats to everyone regardless, but today it was me who had time.
I’m not sure how we got onto the subject of work, but he began to talk about the joy he gets from what he does. He must be in his 60s and might well have chosen, as many small business owners do, to take to the back room and allow others to do the making. But he hasn’t. He stays up front of house, and not because, it seems to me, that he doesn’t trust anyone else (maybe he doesn’t, but it’s not evident from my observations) but instead because he enjoys making coffee for people.
“I retired twenty-five years ago”, he said, pointing to the fact that he loves his work. “I came to Ireland with nothing. I had only £180 pounds in my pocket at the time”. He spoke about opening several coffee shops, and I got the sense that even though that brought status and a certain degree of wealth too, something changed for him somewhere along the line.
“It’s worth a deeper conversation”, I said, and he waved me off as I left to deliver the final lecture of the semester to what was an empty classroom.
This is the promised land of work…to find something we can get up and do every day that provides meaning and purpose beyond the necessity of making a living. Working for a living; what a dumb use of a life.
Something to consider…
A certain thing happens when we move from doing the work to managing the work and others who do the work for us. We need to become something else, a different animal. I tried it, and it doesn’t suit me. I want to do the work itself, not supervise.
I want to be like Coffee Man. Or am I being idealistic?
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