My Coffee Is Worth Every Cent: Reflections On Community In My Daily Life by Laurie Balles Simpson

3 years ago
My Coffee Is Worth Every Cent: Reflections On Community In My Daily Life

Every morning I stop in to grab a cup of coffee at my local quick mart before heading to work. It’s become such a habit that even if I’ve had plenty of coffee at home, I still stop. I’ve considered how much money I pay for coffee vs. how much disposable income I have. I still do it. I’ve considered the time it takes vs. the driving time I have to get to work when I’m running late. I still do it.

Part of my routine at work is to empty the half-drank, now cold, cup of coffee into the lobby bathroom sink and toss the cup into the garbage. Just the other day, a coworker mentioned how the bathroom smelled like coffee and that someone is throwing their cups in the garbage. I admitted, “Yeah, that’s me.” I’ve been doing it since I started work there four years ago.

Self-reflection is clearly in my wheelhouse, but this made me reflect more. It’s been at least four years. Four years equals 52 weeks in a year which equals 208 weeks divided by... Oh wait, to be fair, it’s not seven days a week it’s more like six or five. So, for the last four years, I have stopped by my local quick mart, unnecessarily, for coffee, at least 1,040 times.

The fiscally responsible portion of my brain wants to add a dollar amount to that. But, it doesn’t matter to me because:

  • I see Cheryl. Cheryl’s son and family are moving closer to her permanently, as they plan to welcome their second child soon.
  • I see Michelle, the ever positive and smiling mother of a college student who drives 40 minutes to work, rain, sleet or snow, even though driving causes her great anxiety.
  • Some days I see Marcus, whose humble confidence and challenged path have empowered him rather than beat him down, who proudly drives his new wheels to work each day.
  • Then there’s Tom, whose quirky dad jokes and extended pauses in conversation make for an uncomfortable goodbye, but he’s real and he is Tom and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
  • Sometimes I see Rick, who is fighting MS and has had to cut down his hours. He recently received word that he’ll receive some disability support so that he can continue to work and provide for his family at the same time.

These are my people. They are what inspire me to stop, no matter the rationale, to get that unnecessary cup of coffee 260 days a year.

Sure, the money spent after 1,040 stops is reasonably regrettable, but the value of these people’s part of my everyday life is immeasurable.

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Donna John
I absolutely love this, Laurie Balles Simpson . It's kind of like how much we eat at our local Mexican food restaurant, even though we like the food at other places better. We see "the regulars" and enjoy talking with them. The social aspect is more important than my dinner. Keep on enjoying that coffee!
This is so heart warming, I love it. ❤️
Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
This is a lovely reflection, Laurie Balles Simpson ! I love that you stopped to think about the "why" in the coffee, and that the why is "your people." There's no better reason for "unnecessary coffee" than the power of community. Thank you for sharing this! xoxo
Ann Marie G.H. Patitucci
I love this, Laurie Balles Simpson (and YOU!). I feel the same way about some of my local places, too. Thanks for putting it so perfectly.
Laura Allen-Davis
This is Wonderful!!! I love it!
Brenda Lee Summers
Ok. I think your story is lovely and I do get where you're coming from. I , of all ppl, understand our need for familiarity and comfort of familiar ppl,friends, acquaintances, even stores and And I get that everyone needs coffee,or likes it and it has become the social thing to do. But, what I don't understand, is, the economical factor of it. If someone is on a budget, and they have to work hard for their money, and everyone does, why do ppl blow money on something unimportant?(Sorry, I'm not familiar with " disposable income"). Like, not on a product you buy once in a while. Oh, we all have gone out, feeling good,( or bad)... and we have blown money on something we just had to have! Not like that. But something that costs a "not so cheap anymore" price, and it's daily, and it's a "wasted" thing, because it's thrown out,when it's not even all I just don't I, were in your shoes,(or when I had stopped to think of this subject), and realized the cost of what I was doing, and for how long, and then realized why I did it, I'd probably think the same thing,and I understand the story's meaning. However, where it would change for me, would be this. I would like to still see those ppl ,of course, because they're good ppl you know, like, are friends with, talk to,acquaintances, familiar with, and they give you a good feeling ,and you are happy when you're there,and it's a good start to your day. And we also are creatures of habit. The point is the community feeling. Ok, so I would change the one thing that's not very good for your life, and I'd stop buying coffee there. I mean, why waste money for something you don't even drink completely, and it's costing you a substantial amount of money per year, that you could save in a jar, to put towards a trip. So, why not make your own coffee, and take it in a mug, stop at the convenience store and buy a scratch ticket ,or just stop and say hello like always, and continue your social time ,and all. Maybe, buy a scratch ticket ? It only costs a dollar, and at least you might come out of it richer, at some point ,'ll win, a few dollars back to cover your loss a little bit, or who knows, ..maybe a lot. Point is, why spend so much money on something that you're not even really happy with, (otherwise you'd drink it all), you're saving money, cups and lids ,stir sticks ,packaging in other words, going into the garbages ( so you'd be saving all those things from being thrown out into waste receptacles (for one year,can you imagine how much garbage that you'd save the planet from absorbing?), and also the fact you can do something with that money, that could be for you to vacation on, or you could donate to charity, help ppl,or animals, if that's what you choose? That's what I would change. Just saying, it seems like such a waste of money, you said it yourself. So why not change that one thing, but keep the rest of your day the same? Why not? You still get to see those ppl and still get to feel good, but feel even better, by saving money, saving the planet in a small but great way, and helping others or yourself ,at the end of the year (s), by donating or vacationing or getting something nice for yourself. Hope I don't offend anyone. It's not meant to. I would just like to know that there is another way of doing things and it can still come out well, even better. 😃🤗 Just my side take on this story, and adding a different view. Thanks for the opportunity. Have an awesome day!! Cheers! 💝💞💰🗓🌎💚🌱🕊
Brenda Lee Summers
I did enjoy your story ,and loved the ppl that you have gotten(?) to know, and they do sound like great ppl. And of course that's the main point of this... I understand that. Just thought of a way to even make things better for some ppl if you earn money you can't afford to waste. .Hope ppl understand what I was trying to say. 😊 I just have a different view of things sometimes. I'm different. don't take offense .I love your story. 🌷🌸🌷🌺🌷🌸🌷🌸🐇✨🌞✨🐦🕊
Laurie Balles Simpson
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Brenda Lee. I’m grateful to have the option to choose to go get that coffee. There were times in my life that I didn’t have that choice or even the gas money to get there. What this story doesn’t speak of is my personal history, or how ridiculously frugal I am in almost every aspect of my life (which makes this story even more ironic to those that know me) or even the mountains I’ve climbed to get to where I have the opportunity to actually make the choice to buy coffee everyday. No, being able to buy a cup of coffee everyday has never been a dream of mine but after digging myself out of the trenches, I learned a lot about me. From those experiences, I promised myself to always remain present and grateful, to appreciate the simple things, to reflect on things often, and to give and share my time and energy with those that mean a lot to me.

At this moment in my life, I am grateful for the coffee and the people and vacation with my family and gas in my car and food on my table and a job that allows for it. I’m also grateful for the trenches I’ve been in that have helped me make those promises and to myself for honoring them. To me, those things are invaluable.

Again, thank you for sharing your perspective! ❤️❤️
Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
Oh, Laurie Balles Simpson , I was thinking about this post today. With all that has changed in the world, I wanted to re-read it. It moved me to tears. I read it aloud to my husband, Dieter Schmitz , and we reflected on it as a comfortable ritual, routine, sense of community. And how much we miss that. How are you doing? Still getting that coffee every day? Would love it if you’d consider a follow up post to this one. I miss your voice and would love to know how you’re doing! Hope you’re staying safe and well, and enjoying your morning cup each day. Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead Donna John Michael Kennedy
Ann Marie G.H. Patitucci
Great question for @Lasimp34. I love everything you write, Laurie Balles Simpson ! Our local coffee shop, just outside our neighborhood, just re-opened!

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