Thursday, December 03, 2009
One of the coolest parts of owning a small local biz is getting to know the ‘regulars’. Regulars come in many shapes and forms. There’s the one who comes in, without fail, every Sunday afternoon, for his weekly quart of cookie dough. Another brings his wife in a couple times a week. Each order up a large dish of their favorite, and the two of them sit and chat for an hour with the crew and me. It’s fun getting to know customers. Eventually, their visits start to feel like friends stopping by to say hello.
Sometimes, regulars stop becoming regulars. This is often triggered by a need to drop a few pounds, get control over some lactose-intolerance issue, swearing off sweets as a sacrifice for Lent, or just the busy-ness of life getting in the way. Then there are the seasonal regulars too. These are the folks that mysteriously lose their cravings for ice cream when the leaves come off the trees and the mittens go on the hands. Luckily, there are still quite a few year-round regulars.
I look forward to my weekly Sunday visit from a nice, older gentleman known best around town for his love of the Yankees. It doesn’t matter if it’s the dead of winter, and all his beloved Yanks are swinging golf clubs in lower latitudes. He just loves to talk Yankees, especially to a Red Sox fan this year.
Another regular whose visits I always enjoy is an equally nice older woman. She always has a smile on her face. ‘How’s it going today?’ I most often say. ‘Oh, pretty good,’ is her usual response. While she sits and leisurely enjoys her ice cream, she tells me about the exciting things she’s been doing. For a while, it was downhill skiing. Before that, it was sailing. I would occasionally bump into her at the gym I used to belong to, where she’d be lifting weights with a trainer. Most days she comes to the shop, we simply exchange pleasantries, she goes on to enjoy her ice cream, occasionally buying something to bring home, and is on her way. She’s always remarkably upbeat and cheerful. Oh, and did I also mention she’s a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down? Forced to endure the worst the disease Multiple Sclerosis has to offer. I don’t know much more about her life than she’s told while her assistant fed her a dish of her favorite ice cream, but from my view, she battled MS courageously for 30 years, never letting it prevent her from doing the things she wanted to do. I say ‘battled’ because her sister, another regular, came in yesterday and shared with me the sad news that she had passed away over the weekend, at the age of 62. A nice woman dealt a really crappy hand, in the form of the crippling wrath of MS, who despite the challenges, chose to play that hand the best she could. Thanks Nancy, for the weekly dose of inspiration.
May you rest in peace, or run again like the wind, whichever you prefer.