Kuppi Coffee Company in Edgewater, New Jersey, was a fun little find on my search for a healthy place to drop in after working out.
Subway tile line the walls, brick to compliment the room, hanging lights, wide windows in the front overlooking the parking lot, and airy windows in the back afforded a view of the Hudson River. Couches, high tables, communal wooden tables, and trendy stadium style seating scattered throughout the room. A place for every type of customer. I arrived at the counter and ordered a Chickpea Smash, smashed chickpeas over multi grain bread with arugula, radish, and topped with Sriracha, side of cappuccino.
As I placed my order an elderly man struck up a conversation with me. He was an Armenian fur designer living in Cliffside Park who moved to the area from Istanbul many years ago. I bit my tongue not to mention my adversity to animal cruelty amid my animal rescue efforts. By the time I signed my receipt he offered me a seat at his table. Since my original position was surrounded by several children playing under the age of five, adorable but no thank you, I took up the offer for a quieter atmosphere. Here, I’d sit for the next two hours as I sipped and nibbled.
I enjoy meeting strangers in public places, especially those from another country. I find there’s so much to learn, like an audio book in first person perspective. The individual paths that led such a stranger to the exact moment I share with them, listening to their passions, discovering a foreign city that is soon added to my travel list, and trying to understand their, oftentimes broken, English. The Mayor* did not disappoint. I soon discovered he was a regular at Kuppi and the owner dubbed him Mayor because he spoke to every new face that entered the shop.
What I found most amusing about Mayor was the amount of times he seemed to contradict himself. He doesn’t like when others talked about history, he has no use for the past, and yet he loves to read history books; he doesn’t like people but yet smiled at everyone in the room; he thinks those who talk too much don’t understand when to ask questions, and somehow in the two hours we sat with one another he monopolized the conversation for about an hour and 45 minutes. As he spoke, I remained essentially silent but smiled and nodded my way through. Sometimes people just want to be heard, and I’ve made a career off of listening.
Journalists are oftentimes treated like therapists with a byline.
I looked around as he pointed to the Turkish woman dying of cancer, the Russian customer with the billionaire husband, the Palestinian millennial always with her laptop, the mortgage (or insurance) salesman typing away, the disgruntled Eastern European on line who is inherently miserable with two children, and the owners mother who sat directly next to us. Each person with their own backstory, and the Mayor was privy to them all. Then, there was me, a new character for him to learn. I’d undoubtedly be his ‘spring flower’ (a nickname I quickly acquired) from Long Island with a penchant for smiling.
Our time together grew to a close as my two hour parking was up. We shook hands and I gathered my turned off laptop. I didn’t get the work done that I had planned but I walked away with something more. Kuppi’s became more than an atmosphere. For me, it’s the story of The Mayor & The Spring Flower.