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.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Camper Karma

I’ve got a door here, man! This thing’s un-drivable!”

These words were spoken at a fairly high volume by our barista to the driver of an 18-wheel big rig truck.  The Caribbean gentleman walked around the front of his nicely polished red machine—decorated with quotes from the Bible painted on its doors—fairly fumed after not being able to make a right turn at a traffic light onto a two-lane, 30-mile per hour speed limited city road known as Eastern Avenue.

“You’ve got to mooove!”

The barista knew that he was parked legally.  He also knew that he was not going anywhere with the unhinged, rear door of the Dolphin in his hands.  What should he do?  How did he ever get in this position?


“Sorry I’m late, I overslept the alarm.  This never happens.”

Monroe was scheduled to open the shop that Sunday morning.  It was a good day for the barista to arrive early—a hot, sticky, summer Baltimore a.m.—which he did.  Her words sounded eerily familiar.  Words the barista may have spoken in the past to another blond barista.

“Don’t worry.  It’s nothing I haven’t done.  At least you’re here.” With three customers already at the door, our barista was grateful to have the help, though he heard from a not-to-be-named patron that Monroe has been late before.  So he didn’t leave her completely off the hook.  “But you know, Monroe, now I might have to rewrite your college letter of recommendation.” 

Riiiiiing, riiiiing…

“Reg, it’s for you.”


“This is Jackie from EZ-Storage. How are you today Mr….”

Not good if you’re calling me at work on a Sunday morning.

“Your camper has been vandalized.”

“What?!  When?!  How?!”

“Overnight, somebody must have climbed the fence after the electricity went out.”


“The grid went out and our back up never kicked in.  We may not have the video.”

“Well, did they break in?”

“The police officer doesn’t seem to think so.  But you should come over here and check it out.”

The barista just started a rare Sunday double shift.  Not much time for extra-curriculars on potentially the café’s busiest day of the week.  But soon after lunch he mounted his trail bike for the Park called Patterson and then into Highlandtown where the Dolphin was stored. 

He understood this section of Highlandtown was poor and rough, but his camper was parked on a busy road behind a gated, keyed entry and seemingly safe under 24-hour surveillance cameras.  At the time the barista figured the Dolphin’s chances of being left alone were better here rather than parking in the densely populated Point called Fell’s—which is a chore given the narrow streets and the overpopulation of automobiles.    Plus, the potential for parking tickets and vandalism is fairly high.  Without a driveway or garage, parking pretty much sucks in the city.

Sweat dripped from the barista’s brow as he keyed in his code to lift the gate.  The 3-mile trip usually takes him 15 minutes on bike.  This day’s ride was closer to ten.  He sped past the office where Jackie stood and angled straight for the Dolphin.  Pieces of the door lay on the ground in the distance as he turned the corner.  He slowly hit the breaks and took a closer look.

A hungover Buck was in the café that Sunday June afternoon when the barista originally received the news.  For lunch the barista made him a grilled wrap with cream cheese, apple slices, deli turkey, tomato, lettuce and a good showering of Frank’s hot sauce.  Three days later Buck got the rest of the story, ordering the same lunch. 

“So what’d they say?”

“Well, the cop said in his report there wasn’t a break in.  But I swear I locked the front door—which somehow was left unlocked.  Plus the glove box was open, along with the overhead compartments!  Thing was, though a blanket was flung around, I don’t think he took much of anything ‘cept the change in the console—which was lifted and placed on the passenger seat.  The cop is such a slacker.  He could give a shit.”

“What about the door?  You got insurance?”

“Not comprehensive.  I figured behind a locked gate and under a surveillance camera I’d be alright. Huh!...So I have to somehow rebuild this door.”

“You should take it to King Architectural Metals.”


Though the burglar broke in through the Dolphin’s back door, he must have locked it behind him.  EZ-Storage finally received a video from that night showing a young male using some sort of rock in a failed attempt to break the back window.  But with a crowbar-type device, he managed to pry open a hole wide enough to reach his hand and arm around to unlock the door.  About a minute later the video showed him exit from the driver’s door.  So much for the police report stating only “vandalism”.  The barista telephoned the police officer and received no reply.  He tries not to judge the competence of the force by this one example, but then remembers the rant from the owner of Broadway Bicycles who said Baltimore is fourth in the nation in bike thefts.  The barista’s bike was stolen from the first floor of his apartment the month after the Dolphin break-in.  But that’s a different story…Or is it?

The metal shop Buck suggested was adjacent a traffic light on a two-lane, 30-mile per hour speed limited city road known as Eastern Avenue.  He found a parking spot on the corner and waltzed in.

“I need a door for a 1986 camper van...”

“What are the measurements?”


“Here’s a tape measure, come back with the numbers.”

The barista had put off the inevitable long enough.  He needed to unlock the back door to properly assess the damage.  But he knew this would likely cause the door to collapse.  There was no guarantee he could secure it back in place.  He procrastinated at the storage unit so he wouldn’t have to leave the inside exposed while he was in the metal shop.  Now was the time.

Key.  Click.  Boom.

Half of the aluminum door frame remained on the hinge, while the other half stayed with the door—which now laid flat on the sidewalk.  The barista measured the damage and was grateful the door frame—despite being separated—was in salvageable shape.  Repositioning the crooked, busted door back on the camper was no treat.  Well, unless you were one of the curious pedestrians walking by.  The Styrofoam door needed to be carefully—and simultaneously—slid inside the top and hinged part of the frame.  The skin was loose from the damage—on both the interior and the exterior of the door.  Gravity was no help.  Neither was the cars speeding by.  And neither was that foghorn blowing for the fifth consecutive time.  Can’t he see I’m busy?

“You’ve got to move!”  A stout, Caribbean truck driver’s rig was nearly jack-knifed attempting a 90-degree, right turn between the center concrete median and the side of the legally parked, door-less Dolphin.

Two men’s miserable situations collided.  The barista tossed the door between the couch and table inside the Dolphin and pulled off a seven-point, not so much turn, but adjustment to his parallel park.  The trucker waved directions at the barista through his rearview mirror before waddling back to his wheel.  The barista fretted.  The trailer nearly cornered the Dolphin’s shower.  Then somehow, the large man maneuvered his beast of a machine between the concrete center road divide and the Dolphin, and never looked back.

It was soon after, with the barista in his most frustrated mind, that an angel appeared.  Of course, the weathered, middle-aged man with a gray go-tee and large hands did not appear to be an angel.  That’s part of the beauty of the story.

“What was that about?”

“Too many people in the city, I suppose.”

“I heard your story in the metal shop.  This your camper?”

“Sure is.”

“I’ve got a Toyota camper, too.  `Bout the same year as this.”

“Right on.”

“Say, I’m a metal sculptor,” the stranger continued as he surveyed the damaged door.  “I’ve got a welding shop in Ellicott City.  You find the material, I’ll help you piece it back together.  Bring it by on a free weekend.”

“Are you serious?”

“My name’s Bill,” he said, as he handed the barista a business card.


About three weeks later Bill and the barista were swapping traveling stories as they pieced, stuffed, glued, clamped, framed and welded that busted, 26-year old door back together.  Little Feat and the Allman Brothers Band played on the stereo in the background.

“We were in the mountains east of L.A….not even December and we watched it snow…”

“…Then the cop looked in my pack of cigarettes and found the joint.”

The campers parked next to each other looked like long, lost brothers.  The storm had passed in the barista’s mind.  It was again, light and clear. 

"What do I owe you?"

"Well, just $30 for the materials."

"What? No, no. Take this," the barista handed Bill five 20's.

"I didn't help you for the money," said Bill.  But he did accept two 20's for the material.

Then in the distance, both of the men could hear a light howl. 

“What’s that noise?”

“I’m not sure.  But it sounded like it came from the road.”

"Sure did.  I'm itchin' to get back out there."