Black Coffee and Cigarettes

There are a lot of days when I have a very large amount of regret for the fact that I don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes.  When I was growing up in my Dad’s auto parts business, that was what real, working men did while they productively got their jobs done.  That’s right…actually smoking inside an enclosed building while getting their jobs done.  I especially remember one man, Roger McPeters, who worked for Dad for a long time.  Roger smoked a pipe, which I thought was classier than the cigarettes and made him look way cooler with his awesome mustache and his toboggan (some of you call these knit caps or beanies).  Anyway, I digress.  The main point is that I ought to give my father a medal for raising me around such men and in that atmosphere.

We had a Bunn commercial coffee system with multiple warmers and a hard-plumbed brewing system.  I knew how to make coffee before I could get a work permit and I don’t even like it.  Dad bought coffee by the case and we provided it free to the public and our employees.  Did you hear that coffee snobs?  Free coffee to the public!  In fact if you are a contractor or someone who has a real job, where you actually break a sweat or get dirty for a living, you will still find parts and supply houses that provide the same courtesy.

I wanted to share that memory so that I can say this:  Today, as with many other days, I have been reminded that something is terribly, horribly wrong with our country.  I won’t blame it all on Keurigs and flavored coffee (although I think that is a good start), but that is at least one of the indicators that something is not right…at all.  If commercial coffee in a disposable cup or a heavily used and stained mug was good enough for our fathers, why are we paying over four dollars for something that those guys would have put in a sippy cup for kids to drink?

Something is wrong with us.  Few of us work as hard as our parents and we certainly don’t work as hard as our grandparents.  How’s this for a memory?  I can remember Dad hooking up the plow to our horse and plowing in our garden because he didn’t feeling like going to the hassle of changing the attachment on the tractor to plow eight rows of corn.  Oh, I’m sorry, you were saying something about what a hassle it is that something isn’t working right on your smartphone?

My father retired last year…at eighty years old.  He can barely hear and can’t see so well, either.  His kidneys are failing and they have been for 10 years…and yet he works.  He still works at home with yard work and since we measure their yard in acres, I would say that still qualifies as work.  I’m not saying he that he is as steady or productive as he used to be, but I would be willing to bet that even at his decreased pace that he gets more done than most of us…you know, because we are too busy checking our cellphones or Facebook.

So…just for the record; today, I am angry…and disappointed…and ashamed because of what we have become.  We are lazy and unproductive.  We are late, we don’t deliver, and we are full of excuses.  We are pompous and entitled and we suck.  Oh, and guess what?  If we are one of the few that has a work ethic, we are likely surrounded by a bunch of clowns who we are to afraid to confront and tell them to get off their asses because we are politically correct or worried about their feelings or being sued or fired.  Yep, that is what Hell looks like to me.

Today, I started my day with the memory of my father’s business at 7:55 am on a typical day and the smell of black coffee and cigarettes and it made me cry a little.  I’m not sure if the crying is for the loss of the business and what it did to my Dad or because that entity doesn’t exist anymore or because of who we, as a nation, have become.  Whichever it is, I’m at a loss.

One thought on “Black Coffee and Cigarettes”

  1. Wow – really solid blog post. I enjoyed this a lot, thanks for writing. I do realize I’m a bit (5 years) late with this.

    I remember the smell of black coffee and cigarettes. Not because it’s in the past, but because I’m having that right now. I’m 21, working hard (but as you said, not as hard as our (grand)parents!), and enjoy the heck out of it.

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