A Tale of Two Coopers
For those of you who know me, I can often be found nitpicking the quality of service at a local restaurant, or commenting on the rhythmic incoherence of a band playing somewhere. (One might call it criticizing, but I prefer to think of it as attention to detail.)
But when the opportunity arises, I must sing the praises of those who I feel live and do their job to a level I myself find inspiring, and thus I bring to you: A Tale of Two Coopers.
The first Cooper - a young man of 17 years has, for two of them, been the subject of my admiration. At first, a music student of mine - this motivated and dedicated learner advanced to the point where I simply consider him my friend and fellow musician. We meet regularly to play music together and catch up.
Initially, I projected onto him my own 17 year old self, as he loves the music of my youth; The Doobie Brothers, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Santana, and his devotion to the guitar is quite similar to that of my own at that time in my life. But as we’ve spent more and more time together, I am realizing that he possesses far more maturity and awareness that I had at that stage in life. He thinks like an adult, acts like an adult, and meets me head on as we have philosophical discussions about life and music. We often share our observations about the type of people who listen versus those who only talk; and musicians who do the same. I make every effort to “hook him up” with the best musical situations I can and am happy to say that he has joined a couple of professional bands because of these meetings. I just know he is going to thrive at whatever he chooses.
Meanwhile, my partner and I find ourselves at The Silver Spur - a restaurant on Soquel Drive - having breakfast every other Sunday. I’ve always like this place and admired how such a busy restaurant handles so many customers with ease while others struggle to offer a simple cup of coffee within a reasonable time. As with many restaurants, much of the staff is Hispanic - in fact - it is now Hispanic owned and operated.
But there among the hustle and bustle of this restaurant is this young white kid; baseball cap on backwards, and looking like he might be more comfortable at a skate park than working at a restaurant. But what is really striking about this young man is that he not only busses tables, but also greets customers, pours coffee, checks in on each and every person, and is essentially the oil that makes the entire machine run smoothly - all with a smile and not a hint of boredom or attitude. Surely, I thought, he must be related to the owners somehow, for his focus and dedication to his job is above and beyond what I normally observe.
And so as I was leaving yesterday morning I caught his attention and asked him if he might possibly be associated with the business, or if it was simply a job he landed.
“It’s just a job I got,” he said.
“You do an amazing job,” I told him. “You are going to be great at whatever you decide to do in life. By the way, what is your name?”
“Thank you,” he said sincerely. “My name is Cooper,” he added, smiling as he ran off to clear tables.