No.73, 2010 Placing Our Coffee Order by Burton Janes
Almost the first thing I do each
morning, as I stumble about the
kitchen, is perk two cups of coffee.
Then, I sit in the den with a mug in my
right hand and a book in my left hand,
while my “shadow,” our dog,
Madisyn, snuggles beside me. I am
man enough to admit that coffee
provides me with a “kick.” (Perhaps it
isn’t all that strange that, in my years
of pulpit ministry as a minister, I never
preached on addictions!)
During the remainder of the day, I
limit my intake of caffeine because, as
one wag put it, “If your intake exceeds
your output, your upkeep will be your
downfall.” I try valiantly to survive
caffeine-free...unless I’m traveling.
When my wife and I are on the road,
and a bright red sign - Tim Hortons
Always Fresh - looms in the distance,
neither of us needs much
encouragement to yield. Agospel song
includes the words, “Yield not to
temptation, for yielding is sin.” I’ve
often unofficially replaced the word
“sin” with “fun,” in a vain effort to
justify my penchant for caffeine! “It
makes the trip go better, doesn’t it,
Sherry?” I ask my better half.
One night, when it was raining in
torrents, we were again on the road.
We had finished shopping and were in
the car, headed home from a nearby
town. Ahead of us beckoned the sign -
Tim Hortons Always Fresh.
Temptation strong assailed us as we
imagined a loudspeaker blaring the
mantra, “We have caffeine. You need
caffeine. Stop for caffeine.”
”I will if you will.” At least on this
issue, my wife and I are of the one
I dutifully indicated a lefthand turn,
slowed and swerved onto the Tim
Hortons parking lot. There were no
other customers ahead of us, so we
were assured of swift service.
We coasted to a stop. I lowered my
window and waited for the waitress to
say enticingly, “Welcome to Tim
Hortons. May I take your order
I dug into my pocket for change;
Sherry scrounged her purse for the
“widow’s mite” to add to my money.
No welcoming voice. No warm
invitation to place our order. Rain
pounded my face on this wet, cold,
dank, miserable night...a night that
could only be improved by the “elixir
of life,” coffee.
“Unusual,” I thought. I spoke to my
traveling partner, a modicum of
frustration sounding in my voice, a
frustration understood only by those
who are in dire need of caffeine.
“Why isn’t she
“She must know
we’re here, and
there aren’t any
customers ahead of
us. Whatever can be
By now, the silence
was deafening, but
for the rain beating
on the roof of the
Suddenly, I heard a titter from Sherry.
Glancing her way, I saw a smile crease
her face, then she broke into a hearty
“What’s so funny?” I asked, feeling a
stronger need than ever for a black,
sugarless medium coffee.
“Burton,” she said amid howls of
laughter. “I don’t think she speaks
from the garbage box!”
“Look where you stopped,” she
instructed. “We’re at the garbage
disposal unit. Drive ahead and place
your order at the speaker, like
everybody else. We might get served
I was embarrassed and humiliated. I
drove ahead and placed our order...a
regular for me and a decaffeinated for
her. I made Sherry promise not to tell
anyone of my error and, to this date,
she has faithfully kept her word.