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Most Canadians wake up early to the smell of freshly brewed coffee coming from their kitchen. Others though, before work, will make the trek to their favorite coffee shop, be it Tim Hortons, Coffee Time, whatever. Here they will not only find the early morning beverage of choice but they'll also find donuts, soups, salads, and a whole array of tasty snacks to get them through the day. The one thing they might not see though is Bob sitting in the corner reading a newspaper; his sister just had a baby. They might not even see Michelle coming out of the washroom who just threw up her muffin because she's bulimic. For years not only have coffee shops been a place to get caffine but they've also been a place where gossip abounds, rumors fly, people meet and where the insomniacs and drunks go at three in the morning.
It used to be the big chains that housed all types of society, but now as they become more strict with their laws such as no smoking and twenty minute seating limits, the regulars all seem to be going to the little guys, the independants. I was once an employee of Baker's Dozen Donuts and I had a whole host of regulars to contend with, and the gossip was unbearable. It got to the point where I had to quit. The store was sold and the new owners renovated and made it more commercial. Now I see all of my regulars coming over to the smaller coffee shop across the street, appropriately titled, 'The Donut Vine.' Here I sit and write my life away for at least four hours a night. I don't mind seeing all the same faces as I did before because one thing has changed...the amount of gossip thrown around about you.
I began coming to The Vine in January of 2000 and since then I've noticed that we've all grown to be a family. There's Adam; the other writer, Dalton; the stoner, Kyle; the artist, Jason; the brawler, and a whole gallery of others. Then of course there's the employees. During the day there's two unattractive ladies working but that's alright, our family doesn't gather until about six p.m. During the evening hours the employees are all young, attractive females who are obsessed with thier bodies. Dominiqua, Claudia and Mariola. Sure, they're extremely nice people to talk to but to first see them you'd think their noses were high in the air and their bodily excerements didn't stink. This though, is the stereotype they have but such is not the case. Then there's Jocelyn, the educated one of the employees. Smart, funny, big into theater, writing and acting; she's going to go places. An excellent person to talk to but she's very judgemental. That's alright though, all four of them are definitely part of the group because our family accepts everyone.
I recall two occassions vividly. There were three of us sitting at a table and we had decided to go bowling that night. We shouted out and asked if anyone would care to join us and by the time we left there was twelve of us. Some folks we didn't even know but that was fine, they were there so that meant they were part of our family. On another occassion our table got in to a heated debate about God, an always controversial subject and by the time it was all said and done we had the entire place shouting opinions back and forth. We didn't get kicked out though, even the employee behind the counter, Rebecca, was adding her two cents in between serving customers. You'll have to forgive my family, sometimes we do get a little crazy.
So what draws people to The Vine? It certainly isn't the coffee, that's for sure. It's the atmosphere, everyone's friendly and will never make you feel unwelcome. Gossip is kept to a minimum and it's a place to go escape your own hectic life. People meet here before going to the bar on the weekend and they always return to tell the story of how they almost picked up. It's a place to socialize, hide and interact in great and sometimes not so great conversations. We humans are dependent upon comunication and acceptance and all you have to do is show up at The Vine around seven p.m. for a week straight and you'll get in. Then you're considered a regular and part of the family. Even the employees and the regulars will mingle at a bar every so often, bringing the bond of our family that much closer.
Most people don't realize that a coffee shop is it's own little secret society. Like the C.I.A. of F.B.I., most secrets don't leave it's walls. Ok, maybe not quite like the C.I.A. and F.B.I. our family's security is a little tighter. We all look after one another though and if someone's ever in trouble we take care of it. Yes the little Canadian coffee shops have become more then a place to grab a large double double. For me it's my home away from home where everyone knows my name and no alcohol is served. Come in for a drink, come in to have fun or come in just to hide. If you keep coming in often enough though, expect to get greeted with a smile and please make sure you tip my family members well. After all, it's how they make their living.