Written by Joseph Krzyston
I have only been to the new coffee shop in the library once. These days, I hardly go to the library at all. I live off campus and I don’t hang around here if I can help it. Still, from time to time I set foot in the building to meet with people, or to print something, and I can’t help but think there’s something missing.
It took me a while to put my finger on it. Most everything else is unchanged from last year; the helpful reference librarians, the marginally less helpful folks at the front desk, the racks of magazines, most of which stand to the left of center (Where is the National Review??), almost all of which go unread, it’s all there. The only thing different is the coffee shop.
Now, I am a Richmonder, descended from a long line of Richmonders, and we are a people known for our reluctance to change. We are also known for our ham biscuits and pimento cheese, but the reluctance to change seems more relevant at time of writing. There’s an old joke- How many Richmonders does it take to change a lightbulb? Three: one to change the bulb, and two to talk about how much nicer the old bulb was.
I offer this information to place my following comments in a proper context, and to explain myself before you decide I’m a cantankerous old man masquerading as a millennial. Now, there’s nothing left to do but say my peace.
I miss Sean from Cups. I don’t miss Sean because I knew him particularly well – we spoke from time to time, always pleasantly, usually about music, and every now and then I’d see him at shows – and I don’t miss him because I have anything against the new people or the new place. By all accounts, they are friendly, professional and they run a perfectly fine operation.
No, I miss him because of what his departure means. It’s one less familiar face, one less dependable outlet for my thoughts on Bob Dylan’s later day output, one less friendly person to quip to about the events of my day. I’d been buying coffee from him for three years and I’d grown to like that.
That’s really what it is; there just weren’t that many things I really liked here. The faculty and staff here are excellent, but I often operate with them on a professional basis, or at least something approaching one. Sean was different. He didn’t ever give me a grade. Not once did he sign my timesheet. If I got caught with a beer, he wasn’t in any way responsible for my discipline. He just sold me coffee and talked to me, and that is totally honest. I’m sure students younger than I will make connections with the new folks, but there’s no way to make three years of connection in one. I do wish the new coffee shop all the best, but for me, I’ll stick to my French Press and think fondly of baristas gone by.