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May 2, 2020

Often while scooping coffee grounds for my morning brew, I think about my coffee shop routine pre-Covid-19. It’s sad that I wasn’t able to bid a temporary farewell to the dear friends I’ve made at my hangouts. I wonder how they are doing. Especially my homeless friend, John -- late 60s or so, White, around six feet tall and a sturdy guy with a bushy white mustache and beard. I never saw him without his knitted cap that covered his white hair except for the straggly ends that poked out. He parked a shopping cart filled to the brim with his personal items in front of the market.

When I first realized he was a “regular,” I would sip my coffee and work quietly at the table behind him in the small space of the cafe. I could hear him chatting by himself. He was neither loud nor obnoxious. He never bothered me, although sometimes he would turn towards me and mutter something. I would just continue working and he’d turned back around.

I also noticed he read the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and different books. Through time, he would share with me memories from his past. He would talk about historical and current events, sports and politics with awesome detail and accuracy. That caught my attention and I wondered about the life John had lived before. But then he would return to mumbling to himself. He was quite kind, too. He complimented me on my “fashionable” clothing and said white was my color. “Louie is a lucky guy!” he would say. “Thank you, John…” I replied. He loved to laugh. When he did, I could hear a little wheeze. And every now and then he’d tell me a joke. But he knew right away if he was “overextending his stay” at my table. “Oh, I should let you write!”

And there was one thing John always did that other customers often did not: He cleaned his table and straightened his chair before leaving.

I hope John is safe and well.

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