So Wednesday, after a few difficult days, we decided to open the cafe for our normal business week (our cafe is open Wednesday thru Saturday). When you say things that cut a little close to the quick for some people you can expect a range of reactions. Many reactions were vitriol spewed from bile pits people seemed to have installed in their brains/mouths. The easier to shoot them at a moment’s notice. I’ve never understood that kind of reaction…to anything. Then again, I’ve never been a Cubs fan.
But I digress. For a while Tuesday I considered closing the cafe for a day or a week to let this crud blow over, hoping maybe our military decided to bomb Bermuda or something so the subject could be changed. Seriously. We were a bit worried for our persons. But then I figured, why? Why do I need to do anything differently? I know who I am. I’m not any of those things any of those people said about me. And so we opened our doors like normal. And something very normal happened. People came in the door and they bought coffee. Lots of it. Extra bags of it. Extra rounds of it. They bought coffee gear, empty jute bags we have lying around and extra packs of coffee filters. They bought drinks for people they’ve never bought drinks for. They bought Brown shirts for themselves that they already owned. They bought practically anything that wasn’t nailed down. And they smiled. And it was good. And there was much rejoicing.
Not everyone had fluffy words of encouragement. Many of our regulars came in, made their regular purchase and reminded us, smilingly, how they disagreed with our views on a great many issues, but that they enjoy the coffee and lively conversations at Brown so much that they simply couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Coffee doesn’t require perfect concord of personal beliefs to taste good. If a person decided that they could only spend dollars at grocery stores, restaurants, retail outlets, etc., with which every owner/operator there agreed with their views, they would soon be hungry, cold and alone. And I will buy anyone a drink who can find one single human being on this planet who agrees with them on everything. It can’t happen. And rational minds celebrate that. It’s called diversity.
I haven’t checked yet, but I think we had our second biggest sales day ever, second only to the last day before Christmas last year. And so I want to say thank you. Thanks to all of you who showed us that while personal beliefs are, well, very personal, they do not have to be buried or compartmentalized; that we are undeniably whole people. Thank you to all of you, those who tend to agree with my worldviews and to those who don’t, who came and supported us out of the principles of free speech. Thank you for showing us that businesses are populated by people, not automatons; and people have feelings. And there is nothing written anywhere that says that the people who run/own businesses cannot have opinions that some people consider unpopular, even in the name of the business. That is part of what makes this country so great. If you don’t like one business, go to another. Take your dollars somewhere else. Or start taking your dollars here. It’s your choice. Just don’t act like a angry Cubs fan about it, is all. I’m making light, but the concept of meting retribution against free speech, no matter how popular or unpopular, is very, very serious for the smooth flow of a free society.
I told my wife that we don’t do accounting negatively. What I mean is that for every person who over the last day or two voiced some variation of, “We will never patronize your business,” I don’t have to take that number of dollars out of my bank account. We just don’t account for it. In that sense it’s not money lost. Hate us all you want for what we say (or in this case, what you wanted us to say to fit the narrative so you could demonize us). But you can’t reach into my bank account and take what I’ve earned. Just go find a business you like that serves a good product and makes you feel comfortable. Lord knows there are uncountable places I don’t go for any number of reasons, and any of you may choose not to patronize Brown for any reason you choose…or no reason at all.
I’ve been told by a few friends (and businesses–get it?) in this industry that they can no longer associate with me because of my beliefs. That what I have done is too ugly and that it represents all that is base about humanity. You think I’m dead wrong and want me to know you feel you’re dead right. I have crossed your bright line and on principle, to show that you’re a principled person/business, you are excommunicating me from your society. I get it. That’s fine, I guess, though I’m sorry to see you go in such a hurry. But consider for a moment that you probably knew that I probably knew you stood for things that were the complete antithesis of my own deeply held convictions…yet I still communed with you. So now who wears the white hat and who the black?
I know you want to post comments. Some five or six hundred of you have been chomping at the bit to make yourself heard in this space in the last couple days. And some of you want to comment about the fact that I’m not allowing comments on the posts of the past (which, believe it or not, actually and truly got accidentally deleted by yours truly in a lame-o blogger move that also killed a bunch of other posts. DUMB!) I won’t allow any comments here and now for a couple reasons. First, really, this is a blog about coffee. I’d like to keep it that way. Second, I seriously don’t have the time to curate all your comments and cull all the repetitive venom…or all the praise (yes, there has been lots of praise for us, too, which is odd, considering that we didn’t actually say what people are praising us for saying). Maybe I’ll start another blog about “ultimate issues” and take all commenters. THAT”LL be something epic. But for now I’m just going to go back to being a mild-mannered coffee person who also has opinions, just like everybody else.
So come say hi and let’s get a cup of coffee and sit down and talk and be friends, and discuss rationally the issues of the day, no matter what you believe. Everyone who knows this blogger knows I love to argue/debate/discuss/play the contrarian. (Just ask my wife.) THAT’S WHY WE DON’T HAVE ANY WI-FI AT THE CAFE, PEOPLE! We want you to get to know your neighbors, whoever they are.
Deal? Good. See you soon.
Oh, and Bourdain, being a televised wandering eater with a budget and a cool frock of hair does not a theologian make. Seriously, man. It’s embarrassing.
UPDATE: We have not “retracted” any apologies. We felt and still feel badly about hurting so many people. We’re simply working to get the website back to normal programming. You can expect more coffee blogging here very soon as well.