It was just after lunch time, and Paul was on his way back to the dorm. There was only one thing on his mind. A nice cup of coffee. With one creamer and two equals. Just the way he liked it. There was only one problem though. Paul didn’t have any coffee. In fact, he had another problem on top of that. He wasn’t even sure who he could ask for coffee. This just wasn’t any good.
Now Paul was a guy who didn’t like to feel he was being a burden to anyone. He liked to be able to maintain himself without very little help from anyone. You’d prolly say he was self-sufficient. He always tried to do the best he could not to ask for something he wanted, unless he was able to give something in return for it. He liked working to earn what he needed. This attitude lead Paul to take up sewing, and with his skills he became the dorm tailor. Paul earned a modest living in prison using a needle he made out of a battery to fix holes in shorts, hem pant legs, and replace buttons. Every now and then he’d even create shorts, tank tops and sleep masks. One time he made a radio case armband for someone. Yes, Paul had lots of business.
Lately, though, business had slowed down, he wasn’t getting many repairs. Which meant, no coffee. Luckily though, he didn’t have as bad a coffee habit as other people he knew. There were some guys in his dorm who had a real bad coffee addiction. He knew of one guy who drank over ten cups daily! The most Paul would drink in a day would be four cups.
As Paul walked into the dorm, he remembered that his neighbor Murray had offered him some coffee earlier that day. Paul had to decline his offer because he had just brewed some tea. Luckily, Murray told him he’d hold onto a cup for him later. The memory of this caused a turbo-boost of energy in Paul that led him straight to his coffee cup in seconds.
Unfortunately for Paul, he had to hit the brakes on his coffee fantasies as in his cup was the tea bag from earlier. This just wouldn’t do. Paul needed to rinse his cup out first before he could enjoy anything! The taste of coffee and tea together isn’t bad or anything, it’s just not a taste Paul wanted to experience at the moment. Paul ran over to the hot water fountain to try and rid his cup of tea residue.
After finishing rinsing his cup out, a guy Paul was unfamiliar with got his attention and asked him over.
“What’s going on man?” asked Paul.
“Not much, I was wanderin through. What are you drinking?”
Paul turned his cup over and shook it out. “Nothing much, just rinsing my cup out!”
The man asked Paul if he’d like some coffee. He didn’t know how to respond. He didn’t know this guy too well. Unsure of his motives as well. It wasn’t normal for a stranger to just offer you something without expecting something in return. In prison, these situations can lead to somebody getting sent to medical with stab wounds or worse. Great care and caution were crucial.
Hesitantly, Paul agreed. He sure hoped he had made the right choice. He followed the kind stranger, cup in hand, over to his locker. A lump formed in his throat and his heartbeat started to rise.
Finally, the man opened his locker, pulled out a half-full bag of instant coffee, took Paul’s spoon and took out a giant scoop of coffee and dropped it in his cup. Before he could do anything else, Paul told him that was plenty.
The stranger asked if he was sure and Paul had told him he was, but apparently he didn’t agree with him and gave Paul’s cup an extra half scoop of coffee. Then he asked him if he wanted sugar. Paul didn’t know how to react to this guy’s generosity.
“S-s-s-sure,” was all he could get out.
“Here, take two.”
This was too much. A cup and a half of coffee and two sugars from someone he didn’t know. Paul thanked him very much for his kindness. The stranger simply told him it was no big deal. You’ve helped me out in my time of need, so I’m helping you in yours.
Paul was speechless and the stranger walked away.
As Paul stood there with his coffee in hand. It came to him what this guy was talking about. He’d asked him for coffee and other things before and Paul never turned him away. No expectations of being paid back and never asking for anything in return. You wanna know something?
That was the best cup of coffee Paul ever had.