Sure it had been half a year since I had seen him in my little shop and almost just as long since I had given him any real thought, but I wasn't ready for him to be dead.
When his wife told me that he had died, I was glad that the enormity of the event had passed some time ago. I can feel a great deal of compassion, but I'm terribly awkward at consoling people. I would have made an embarrassing priest (my agnosticism not withstanding) and a terrible psychologist.
His wife told me that my shop was one of his most favorite places.
I had to walk into the back office to see if I had anything in my eye.
I liked Jim.
He was good people.
He would come in at the crack of dawn and smile a warm smile and say "You know what I want, Josh"
And I always did.
And he always called me Josh. Except when he called me "Sir".
He could be cheeky like that at six a.m.
And I would get him his coffee and his muffin and we would exchange some human warmth between us.
Over the years I watched him grow weaker.
And then he stopped coming for a while.
And then he started up again.
And then he stopped again.
And then I would see him in the passenger side of the car and his wife would get his coffee and his muffin.
And then she didn't.
It happens like that with the people who walk into my shop. People pop in like an accident. Then they become regulars. Then they bring in their spouses and their children. Sometimes I get to know what they do for a living, which church they go to, whether or not they play golf or fantasy football. Sometimes they get new jobs and I don't see them except for the weekends, they go off to school, they move away. There is flirting, and inside jokes, and there are terrible Mondays and weekends to look forward to.
I'm treated like a rockstar by some, a door man by some, and an indentured servant by a select few, and you can guess who spends the rest of the afternoon with caffeine withdrawals.
But never people like Jim.
People like Jim get to hang in first class with the prompt service and extra pillows.
So here's to Jim . . .
I hope you lived your life well . . .
I hope you regretted doing the bad stupid stuff you probably did,
and I hope you tried to teach your kids not to do the same bad stupid stuff even though they never would have listened to you anyway, at least you tried.
I hope you gave more than you got. Just to tip the scale in your favor. If there is a scale.
And lastly. . .
If there is a scale, and it does tip in your favor, I hope there's someone up there that knows you want a medium cup of coffee with a little bit of room (not for cream and sugar, but so you don't spill it in the car). And a reduced fat pumpkin ginger muffin. and a smile. and a wink. and a nod. and a little human kindness.
Cause I can't do that anymore.