One of the things I do a lot of in my job is drive, or be driven. Either way there’s a lot of time covering a lot of ground. One of the challenges I find in America is that there is not a steady flow of service stations along the major roads, as we have in the UK. So what you ask? Well, it’s a problem sometimes when you realize you need a pee. And that leads to interesting discoveries.
The other week I was travelling from Seattle to Portland with a colleague via the power of motor vehicle, whereupon somewhere in the lower part of Washington state I realized I needed a pit stop.
To try and meet my need along with our joint need for caffeine I searched for coffee shops in my phone maps. A whole host of cute looking independent drives throughs operates from quaint old wooden shed type buildings popped up but that simply wasn’t going to meet my needs. So I decided to aim for the one that appeared to be in the most built up area, confident that would lead us to the dream land that is a toilet when one is in urgent need.
We drove on into Napavine, the town in question and kept our eyes peeled as we drove toward to quaint drive through coffee stop. Next to the coffee stop was what claimed to be a bakery, yet questionably could have shut down years earlier. Nonetheless, I was in need and needs must. So we parked up and went through the front door into said bakery. We stepped in and it looked like the utility room (no idea what you call that in America i’m afraid, maybe boot room?) of someone’s house. We called out ‘hello’ and were greeted repeatedly with eerie silence. I whispered to my colleague ‘I think I want to leave now’. At which point a guy appears from the back door asking what we wanted. ‘Is this a bakery?’ We ventured and ‘are you open?’.
‘Yes yes, we’re open we have 12 different types of donut, what you want?’ the man offered cheerily. ‘If I’m honest I really need to use a restroom?’ I said. ‘Of course, of course. No purchase necessary just use it, please’.
What a lovely guy! But come on, as if we weren’t then going to buy a donut or five. Turns out the chap had come to the US from Asia as a kid, had lived in Washington state then San Diego and LA before heading back to Washington. They also owned the coffee spot outside and primarily made donuts for local schools, hospitals, businesses. The only donut makers in about a 25 mile radius they had a captive audience that kept them in a thriving business.
After we loaded up on donuts and good conversation at Spiffy’s donuts we headed out to the coffee stop. A whole delight of unusual flavors were on offer but the highlight for me was not the coffee itself. Again following lovely friendly chats whilst making the hot coffee the lady asked if we wanted straws for our drinks. I was at first taken aback as it seemed somewhat odd, but as she rightly explained it helped ensure our coffee stayed in our cups and our mouths and not all over our work clothes when we were travelling along. She’s knows us better than we know ourselves, since me and my colleague have had numerous instances with spilled drinks.
What struck me as we headed in from our unexpectedly delightful interlude was how peaceful and stress free it could be to have that life. In a world overwhelmed with instant gratification, everything available at a moments notice, bright lights and busy roads, how thoroughly outstanding to observe such joy in a much slower pace. Certainly food for thought (mmm food. I’ve just landed back at LA and am hungry). Perhaps that’s a goal for the future – I may not be the next local donut magnate but perhaps something…..