In 2005 I worked at Starbucks. It was one of the best jobs I have ever had. I loved the people I worked with and I loved my regulars. I looked forward to going to work everyday. I loved being a barista and my favorite part of all was when we went on break or when we got off work (or got there a little early) we would hang out with each other and the people who regularly spent lots of time there.
There were several of us that it seemed like spent 95% of all our free time together. We were such a motley crew… made up of all ages, religions, and backgrounds. The group was Debbie, Eric, Grant, Chiblis, Richard, and I. There were others who floated in and out of our group, like Debbie’s daughters, Eric’s dad, a paramedic who’s name I cant remember, but this core group… we were close. We were family.
Time has changed a lot. Eric died my senior year. It was devastating. I still miss him and think about him all the time. I vaguely keep up with Grant on facebook, but somehow after Eric died it just wasn’t the same. It was hard for us to hang out or at least it was hard for me to hang out with him. Chiblis moved to California, which suits him. Debbie is the woman who moved to Alaska with her children who I e-mailed the other day. And then there is Richard.
Richard and I have always had a special bond. He is older than my parents, in his late sixties probably, but you can talk to him like I talk to you. F*bombs and all. He is interesting, supremely intelligent, and generally doesn’t give a fuck. He is sarcastic and witty and sometimes a bit of an ass. I adore him and I am sure you can see why he took to me. He has two children a little older than me, but they both live far away so I think he sortof saw me like a surrogate.
I lost touch with Richard when I moved to North Carolina but after my divorce I found him again and we picked up right were we left off. Like I had just been on vacation or something. We meet regularly and have coffee and talk about philosophy and politics and relationships and how fucked up the world is. We talk about how people don’t know how to be human any more. We gossip about silly shit. We just spend time together.
Now get ready for the irony.
Richard has COPD. I don’t know if that means anything to you… it didn’t to me. All it meant was that he now used oxygen. No big deal…old people stuff right? Only it is. Its a really big deal. Richard is dying… and I didn’t figure this out until yesterday… which… IRONICLY is the day I started reading Tuesdays with Morrie.
Life is so fucking crazy sometimes. Now I’m not saying that Richard is like Morrie. As a matter of fact the idea of that makes me laugh. He is to cynical and snappy for that. However… the parallels are the same in a lot of ways.
His shorted time makes me realize how freaking much time I waste, how much we all waste, on absolute bullshit. I am making a vow, here and now, that I am going to do my best to never say. “I’m sorry, I’ve just been so busy,” ever again.
We fill our lives with material things. Cars, and houses, and jobs we hate, and money. And it doesn’t fufill us. But we are told if we just have more then we will be happy, so we seek more. Of course it never works. There is a reason rich people suffer from depression and anxiety the same as everyone else. Material goods will NEVER make you happy.
What does make you happy is love. Affection. Quality time. Conversation. Touch. Play. Laughter. Even Tears. And I think we all know this deep down but somehow we buy into our cultures philosophy that money makes you happy.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that I realized the seriousness of Richards condition before it was to late. I’m having coffee with him tomorrow. And I am going to make time for him… and everyone else… more often.
I feel good when I give and I can give my time for free. I can feel good… happy… for free. That makes me truly rich.