Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Upturn [SotCISoaJ]

Working at the front lines of a cafe, you really get a good understanding of the financial times. I sling coffee, a luxury people think of as a necessity. And it's an expensive one at that. A $2 coffee every day before work can add up real quick.

From my vantage point behind the counter, I get to watch who's spending too much money and who has too much money to spend. The strugglers bring in their own cup or buy refill after refill to save. While the ones who can afford it, will buy the thousand calorie sugar bombs.

What I've been able to watch over the last few months is the slow growth of a struggling economy. When I started, the cafe had been quite slow. Morning was quite, lunchtime was empty, closing was deserted. The store was not struggling, but it wasn't doing as good as it should.

Then over the last few weeks, more people were coming in and ordering coffee. More coffee beans have been ordered and more pastures were made in order to fill the customers' needs.

Don't get me wrong; people are still suffering from job loss and poverty. This is just an anecdote for an area that is fairly separated from the problems of the rest of the world. And too often we forget the difference between an anecdote and the real world. But this shows me that something good is coming. Soon we all will be able to feel better and breathe a sigh of relief.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Break (SotCISoaJ)

Looking for work is exhausting and the job, after you find it, is the same. One of the bits of brilliant sayings that runs through my family is that looking for a job is a full-time job. With all that work looking for work, you need a break to relax, calm down and think of something else.

For some reason relaxing for me usually involves food. At least that’s why I found myself walking into Urbana’s Courier Cafe for lunch. To me, a meal is not just what I’m eating. It’s the environment I find myself in, the person who cooked the food. It’s the whole experience of eating that I enjoy; the taste, the smell, the look.

This is what I was hoping I would enjoy when I walked into the restaurant and picked up the paper. I ordered a coffee and an chocolate egg cream. Luxury, to me, is having multiple drinks with my meal. I enjoyed reading through my paper and eating my burger.

Honestly, the burger was good, but not the greatest I’ve ever had and the egg cream embarrassed me with its extravagances, but break made me very happy. There is an old time feeling to the place that slows time. The wallpaper, the wooden tables, the menus, all feel like they exist outside of time.

After lunch, I sipped my coffee and finished reading an article about a candidate running for the Mayor of Chicago. I sat quietly enjoying being in the present for a moment. When I left, I would be back in the real world of worry, but for a moment I could be content with calm.