Coffee with Dad

Three or four times per week, I’d get the call in the evening. “Let’s meet for coffee in the morning.”

Dad was always flexible with time and location. These were his “fresh air inspector” days, when he left the house early each day, doing who knows what. Breakfast in the morning, lunch near whatever courthouse I was going to be in that day, coffee in the late afternoon at my parents’ home, with Mom providing a second lunch or early dinner.  He was always available. 

“Sure, Dad, how about 7 am at your Second Cup office?”   Every Tim’s, Second Cup or Starbucks was Dad’s office, but he was especially fond of the Second Cup on Avenue Road near where we lived, the one that’s no longer there, replaced by a bank several years ago.  Quiet, with big tables that were perfect for writing in his notebooks for hours.

“7 am is perfect.  And, if you can’t sleep, come at 6 am, I’ll be there.”

I’d pull in around 7 am and see Dad at his table by the window, writing furiously in his notebook, a few coffee cups already on his table.  He’d always pull out his wallet to buy my coffee. 

“Dad, one of these days, let me buy.”

“Oh, you’re a big shot now, eh?”

“So Pops, what’s on the agenda today?”  It was always best when he was in a playful or philosophical mood.  Not so much fun when there was some family problem that was gnawing at him, and he wanted me to do his dirty work. He’d go on about some issue (which really wasn’t an issue) and end up with, “you need to speak to your uncle George about this”.   

“Me, why me?   He’s your older brother.  And anyway, I don’t have any problem with the situation”.

Dad would briefly give me that disgusted look, like he couldn’t believe I was actually his son, and then he’d change the topic, to some story about what fathers would do to wayward sons in the village back in the 1930’s.

It was much more enjoyable when he started the conversation with something like, “you know, if all the crooks got together, formed a union and then went on strike, you’d be out of work, and so would all the judges, prosecutors, police, court staff, everyone.  All of you rely on the crooks, you should be more appreciative, say thank you to them once in a while.”

What a great idea.  I could just see the Crooks Union, Local 352, marching outside the Collingwood courthouse with their placards, demanding … what?  No security cameras in retail stores?  All car doors to be unlocked?  Open vaults in banks?

Sometimes I’d surprise my Dad with a great idea of my own.  “What if we came up with a 100% foolproof lie detector test?  Imagine that.  No need for long investigations and trial proceedings.  A simple, ‘did you do it?’ would resolve everything.

Dad’s eyes lit up.  “Hmm, now you’re talking.  Think about the possibilities.”

“I know. And if we gave this technology to Mom, she would be able to find out every where you went and every thought you had.”

Dad’s eyes drifted off as he absorbed this.  “No, that’s not good. You know, the problem with you kids today is that there is too much technology.  Back in the village, the only technology we had were those explosives we found buried in the field.  Did I ever tell about the time we accidentally set them off and I was blinded for three weeks?”

“Yup, that’s a classic. It was your great grandmother who came to the rescue, with a secret magic concoction that she put on your eyes that eventually brought your eyesight back.”

What a great story. I looked at my watch and it was 8:30 am.  I think I have time for a few more.  “Let me get us two more coffees, put your wallet back in your pocket, these ones are on me.”

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