Welcome to where the seeds of dreams are planted--where one can sip from the charmed chalice of life & meet interesting folk through (hopefully) intelligent conversation.

One never knows nor can expect who will sail into the fray--what we do know is that no soul here is perfect no matter how we try. So let us celebrate & raise our mugs to the idiosyncratic nature of life--to the Kramer's & Norm's of the world, the Roseanne's & Allan Poe's. Some old, some lost, some tortured, some blessed, all souls sharing a drink at the same time in the same place. The ensuing tales are authentic with names trending towards monikers. The flag waving on our doorstep means we're open, so come perk your curiosity in Le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.

Bonjour! Mesherfin! Hasta la vista! Your barista.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mesherfin...pleased to meet you

Winning the morning battle posed by the remnants of half a bottle of holiday eggnog the night before, the barista felt quite energized for his Sunday afternoon shift at le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.  Heartburn, what is heartburn? The barista thought as his knuckles met the wooden bar frame. 

Le cafe that day was not nearly as busy as the Sunday prior, when every seat was filled, and when a "patron" with the gall to bring a beverage purchased at the neighboring Corporate Grind sat at the first table, taking up two seats with her laptop computer, lifting le HBC's generous free wireless Internet signal for nearly two hours, without purchasing anything.  Not even a 75-cent shortbread cookie.  Now, would-be patrons looking to buy a tasty pastry, rest their tired legs and chat with their significant other had nowhere to sit.  The barista felt insulted—and obligated to say something.

"Can I get something for you?" he asked after an hour passed.
"Shortly," she mumbled, head down and typing.

Almost an hour after that exchange, the barista asked again.  This time, she felt embarrassed, attempted in vain to defend herself and stormed out.  With the table now available, new patrons—the type that actually buy things—rested comfortably at the first table.

"Was I out of line?" the barista asked Jim and Leon who sat at the adjacent tables drinking beverages prepared at le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.
"Nah, man.  She was a mooch."
"She was never gonna buy anything."

The noticeable difference this past Sunday at le HBC was the lack of college students cramming for their semester finals. (College students can afford the 75-cent cookies.) Many seats were available.  The barista found this odd as the final for his writing class was due this week.  Med students are on a different schedule, he supposed. Slackers.

The sleigh bells hanging from the front door knob jingled.

"Salamu alaykum, Mohammed."
"Wa alaykum salam.  How are you Rehgie?"
"Mezian, mezian."
"Can I have one espresso?"

The barista gets a kick out of brushing up his Arabic with Mohammed, a cafe patron and native of Morocco.  (Though the barista must be careful not to overdo the English phrasal verbs.)  Between jobs in the spring of 2010, the barista spent ten weeks in the northwest African country where he learned some of the Arabic language.  During his stay, he tutored English as a second language to Moroccan adults.  The journals he kept and shared caught the attention of his alma mater, La Salle University, who a year later published a profile of our barista in their alumni magazine.

"Funny you showed up now," the barista said. "I am writing a letter to one of my former students in Morocco."

"What is his name?"  Mohammed asked.

"Otman.  He read the story I wrote. The same one you read, that was published in Urbanite Magazine. He had a few questions."

[Editor's note:  To read the barista's Urbanite story see the preceding blog post “A Mountaineer & an Urbanite”]

Mohammed is a polite, middle-aged man who recently stepped out of the unemployment line and behind the register of a  convenience store here at the Point called Fells.  His English is good, but a work in progress.  When time permits, the barista helps Mohammed with English pronunciations, spellings and definitions.

"What does it mean?  To hike," he asked after reading the barista's Urbanite piece.

Having traveled through foreign countries in the past, the barista understands the challenges of learning a new language and a new culture—the potential confusion and the potential loneliness.  If he can ease the transition for Mohammed, the barista will get a warm fuzzy feeling in his belly—like that after a shot of whiskey, only without the burn in the back of the throat.

Even before Otman wrote the barista, Morocco had been on his mind.  The writing final he thought about earlier in the day is a 4000-word creative nonfiction story about his time in Morocco.  He wrote the story—Laughing About the Anti-Christ...—to share the experience.  In fact, the barista treated choice café patrons to a sneak preview.  Chances are good; he will post revised excerpts in this venue soon.  Beslama....good bye.


  1. But, how did you translate "to hike"?

    The rambling of this post works well, by the way. You never settle on a focus and for a blog, sometimes, that works.

    Beslama back atcha.

  2. The silence is intoxicating. Yours is a powerful presence from deep in the city to past the tree line. Very well done, Reggie.