Official Coffee Drinking Partner & Editor – Jimmy Howe at TCC.
Having read only this much of my column, you might already be asking, “What does Joe’s title, Westside Story – 1-2-5-3, mean?” Let me try to explain.
My sister, Peg, (Note: Not to be confused with Peg, who is the wife of The Suburban Times internationally famous writer, Don Doman), and I meet for coffee once a month. We have a positive brother-sister relationship. I call her Sister Margaret. She refers to me as Brother Joseph.
Peg has always been a sensitive, loving, helpful human being. In her adult life, she worked as a social worker starting as a counselor for youth incarcerated in juvenile hall. Peg went on to found and lead Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. Thirty years later she began her second career as a Unitarian Minister. Peg has always been a helper.
My high school counselor, Ms. Gertrude Hansen, arranged to have me take the Kuder Employment Preference Test. The test indicated I should become a teacher, social worker, or minister. I combined all three, teaching, social work, and ministering by becoming a police officer. Like my sister, I became a helper.
Peg and I both developed and internalized a helper’s behavioral profile. After retiring from our helping careers, we still like to help people every chance we get.
Our mutual propensity for helping others came out somewhat comically as we sat inside Cutter’s Point Coffee shop talking and drinking espresso. Our table was located in a narrow hallway near the door to the coffee shop’s restroom.
Peg and I noticed people passing our table as they headed to the restroom. Many of the customers were visibly frustrated when they discovered the door was secured with a combination lock. Why the frustration? The customers did not have the combination. They were ever so close to their target destination with only a locked door between them and their ultimate success. Each customer would have to walk back to the front counter and ask a barista for the combination. Upon returning, they could only hope to not find a line of six people waiting outside the door.
Peg and I, being two retired professional helpers, made a game out of coming to the aid of the frustrated customers that found themselves unable to enter the restroom. First, we made a point of memorizing the bathroom door combination,
I have to give credit to Peg for coming up with the idea, but I instantly joined in on her fun-helper effort.
Several total strangers were surprised a couple of story swapping, coffee drinking siblings in their 70s could provide such pivotal personal help during their hour of need.
Customer after customer displayed body language that revealed the fact that Peg and I possessed information they could find useful.
We said things like, “Excuse me. We have important information for you. The numbers 1-2-5-3 will bring you glee.”
The customers would look at us. Their eyes would convulse into 4 or 5 rapid blinks followed by an aha moment.
The customers would then turn around and punch in 1-2-5-3 and find the door to their destination swinging open. The opportunity they so desperately craved was now within their grasp. Before entering, they would turn around taking a quick moment to say things like, “Thank you. You saved my life.” Some of them upon exiting the restroom would turn to our table and share with us, “I could not have done this without you.”
A woman tried entering the restroom several times but was unable to make the combination work. Her problem? She readily admitted her brightly painted red fingernails were too long to accurately tap the buttons. I abandoned my tasty adult espresso beverage and leapt from our table to a position beside her to punch the combination for her. As the door opened, I announced, “I am now finished helping you.
Peg and I think Cutter’s Point should change their label from, “Ask Barista For Combination” to “Ask Sister Margaret or Brother Joseph At Nearby Table 4 For Combination.”
Sister Margaret and Brother Joseph are as helpful as can be. Don’t take our word for it. Punch the number, 1-2-5-3.
Don Doman - says
When I saw your article title, Westside Story – 1-2-5-3, my mind immediately jumped to conclusions that you were going to say something using Victor Borge’s inflationary language. “Any two five elevennis,” sent me into shrieks of laughter when I first heard this over my headphones in the college library decades and decades ago. The librarian did not think my shrieks were conclusive of actual learning, nor helping others to study. But, no I was wrong. You were simply talking in another code, which I certainly understand. I did keep waiting for the punchline, when someone would open the door to find an occupant or two, doing one or two. Except this would leave the translation as a score to be “Oh, one for two.” Which are decent odds. Metaphorically, I see you and Peg (wonderful name, by the way) as the keepers of the key to the kingdom . . . or at least the throne.
Chad McMurrer says
Hey Joe. When I saw the title I was wondering if I would see a Monty Python reference. Hope all is well.
Enjoyed the humor in this folksy and down-home article by Joe!
Mary Hammond says
If the Cutters Point baristas and/or manager read the SubTimes and Westside Story (how could they not?), they have probably changed the combination by now.
You realize, of course, that you and Peg were aiding and assisting scofflaws? I thought you were a law enforcement officer, Joe! When you retired, did you flip?