Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tea and Co-workers

So here I am. Sitting snugly on my couch, laptop whirring and tea cup close at hand. Yes, I drink tea, and before anyone takes this as an uncomplimentary statement concerning my manliness, let me hasten to add that I am drinking it without sugar. That's the true test.

Just the other day, I was in a truck stop down in Jasper, Alabama as a burly trucker stuffed himself through the double doors and sat down at the bar. The upper portion of the stool on which he sat immediately disappeared beneath his bulk, while the base sank into the plank flooring at least two inches. He rubbed his face with a meaty hand, the three-day beard growth rasping loudly against the thick calluses. His plaid shirt was stained, as were the faded jeans. A pair of crusted work boots encased his feet, while a Bass Pro Shop mesh baseball cap sat upon his head at a slight angle. In short, he was a manly man if ever such existed.

"What'll ya have?"

The manly man surveyed the blonde, buxom waitress with mild interest and answered without pause, "I'll have the reg'lar."

"To drank?"

"Make it a cuppa hot tea."


The manly man paused and looked casually around the room once, just to make sure everyone was watching. Once he had their attention, he turned slowly back to the waitress and sneered.

"I take my tea brown," he growled.

I rest my case. If you still think that drinking tea is only for the prancing man, I suggest you take a little jaunt down to Jasper and visit a certain truck stop and take your issues up with a certain trucker. Enjoy your life as a cardboard cutout.

But what I really wanted to talk about today was a certain former coworker of mine. As many of you know, I work for a library system here in Michigan, delivering bags of materials to and from various branch libraries.

Until he recently left the system's employ, I worked with a man named Merbert. Merbert was awesome and I was saddened by the news of his departure. One of the great things about the guy was the ease with which one could carry on a conversation with him, mainly because he wasn't paying any attention to you. This was not because he was rude, but because he was too busy talking himself. And not just any talking, either. Merbert could teach the Democrats a thing or two about filibusters, as I am convinced he invented the technique.

His voice was similar to that of Mortimer Snerd's and contributed appreciably to the entertainment value, as did the fact that every now and then, at seemingly random moments, he would insert bits of crazed laughter into the mix.

It was impossible to keep up with the conversation, if it could be termed as such, because Merbert also had a tendency to change subjects with startling rapidity.

I would see him in the morning as I came in to load my truck for the day's deliveries. "Good morning, Merbert!"

"Why, hello there, buddy!" From there, he would launch into his verbal dissertation and I knew that, from here on out, nothing more would be required from me, save for the occasional nod and appreciative chuckle.

Well, ya know, uh..." Merbert would begin, just warming up before take-off, "we've got a purty big load today, yessir, don't know if I can handle this, it's gonna be hard on my old ticker, ya know, there, uh, I can't get my wife outta the house, I keep wantin' ta go down ta Arizona for the winter, but she don't like ta travel and, ya know, haaaaaaa! one o' these days I'm gonna buy myself a motor home and travel around, yup, after all it looks like it's gonna be a purty nice day today, birds singin', sun's shinin', can't afford the price o' gas, neither, ya know, that health insurance is somethin' else, ain't it? haaaaaaaaaaaaa! Yup, ya know, it's about time we had us a good snowstorm, back in '69 there was a doozy..."

And so it would continue until one of us had finished loading his respective truck and driven away. Suffice it to say, I will miss Merbert and most assuredly will never forget him.


Paul FooDaddy Brand said...


Melbert sounds like a great fella. I knew a guy like that once, and as with Melbert, the conversation was nonsensical, but very easy.

It is considered good practice when conversing to pause from time to time to let your co-conversationalist say something. This is where Melbert and my fellow come through in spades. All you have to do is listen for a pause, and you can say anything you want, and the conversation will just keep rolling along.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing unmanly about drinking tea. On that note I think I will go fix a cup and enjoy.

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

Ooops. I've been reading Merbert's name as "Melbert" this whole time. Nuts!

And tea can be delicious. I'd have some now, if it weren't 4:30 AM.

Anonymous said...

Drink your tea green. With lemon.
Green Tea is good for us, we know that, but the Catechins — the antioxidants in green tea famous for lowering your risk of chronic disease — quickly lose their power in your intestine.

In fact, as much as 80 percent of the catechins in green tea are never absorbed. The solution to boosting absorption is simple. Citrus!!

Add some freshly squeezed (and strained) lemon juice to your cuppa.

Matthew S. Urdan said...

Since you love tea, I really recommend that you check out FohBoh, ( the online networking site for the International Restauarnt Industry. It's got great information and interaction with restaurant professionals, executive chefs, videos of culinary techniques and recipe preparation, a vibrant wine community with internationally renowned somelliers and people like you and me just interested in food and drink.

There's a group on the site that just discusses tea, and already I've been introduced to some great tea recipes, where to go to tream my mother to High Tea, and some new tea companies that compete with The Republic of Tea.

The site is worth checking out, and I think you'd find a great deal of value there for both yourself and your blog.


Matt Urdan
Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta.