My office shut down this week due to the Blizzard of ’16 and I’ve been walking to Starbucks every morning to hang out. My friends tease that I should have gotten a job there to support my latte habit. During my mornings at Starbucks, I befriended a group led by seasoned gentlemen who meet there daily Monday through Friday in the range of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Art, the founder and eldest member of the group, is 83 years young and has been coming to this Starbucks every morning for more than 10 years since his wife passed away. He spent 20 years serving in the army, retired as a colonel and moved on to a second career working as a procurement officer at a bank where he then also retired. Art was married for 50 years and hails from a generation he said that is “modest”, which is why he asked to not be photographed. He feels that the values of the younger generations are lost. Back in the day Art said, when you needed work done, you could count on someone to give you a fair price and a handshake was your word of honor. Not the case today, he said, where multiple bids are placed and endless contract pages are drafted, reviewed and signed for a job to be done. The things that bring Art the most enjoyment every day are doing The Washington Post Daily Crossword and reading the trivia blurbs in the corner pages of USA TODAY.
Mike has been a member of the crew for eight years. He’s a very busy man, as part owner of 28 Popeyes in the VA/MD/DC area. He has lived in Northern Virginia his entire life and witnessed a lot of changes. Mike shared a story of when he was little and there was a similar blizzard. In addition to the snow removal problem, he said heating the school so kids could return was a big challenge. They had coal fed radiators at the time, which was a lot of work for the janitors. He said that school in Centreville still exists today, but has been modernized and is now a school for troubled teens. Mike also shared that the coolest job he ever had was before the Bicentennial when the company he worked for was tasked with installing air conditioning in the Washington Monument. During the job, he and one of his buddies wrote their names and the date inside the peak of the monument. Mike said it cost $1 million to do the renovation work at that time in 1976. He said he’ll never forget the 898 steps because him and his crew had to remove each step to sandblast them clean, as an insurance man sat in his car every day monitoring the work being done.
Craig, a sweet and soft-spoken man, wears a signature blue plaid jacket and enjoys a tall coffee straight-up while sitting reserved on the side.
Other members of the Starbucks morning motley crew include: Tom and Connie, a couple, who are both retired police officers; Bob, a friendly car salesman; and Sharon, a real estate professional in her late 30s, who joins the group on Fridays and is the youngest of the bunch.
It’s been a privilege getting to know everyone. I’m happy that with the winter storm also came new friendships. I’m back to work at my office and miss those entertaining mornings with the crew. As Art poetically stated … “When one comes, one has to go.”