Who was the Repairs and Maintenance Man?

Repairs and Maintenance

Repairs and Maintenance aren’t important when you first open a business.  All your equipment is shiny and new and still has valid warranties.  However, with constant use and misuse, even the best equipment will let you down some time.  I’ve discovered that the day you need immediate repairs and maintenance is usually a holiday or a Sunday at the very least.

This whole business idea was exciting and naturally I was blind to what lay in store for me.  In retrospect I’m glad because it was exactly that lack of understanding that got me out of bed early every morning to walk to work and open the store.

I’ll never understand why my parents agreed when I approached them for some additional funds to get started.  My mom says she doesn’t recollect those early days but I remember her helping organize and clean before we unlocked our doors.  My dad was definitely very proud of his only daughter and from day one, he dubbed himself The Maintenance Man.

In fact Peter was the Repairs and Maintenance Man.

While visiting The Coffee Tree Peter held a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other.  We’d have a conversation along these lines.  “What needs attention this week?”, he’d want precise details and jot them down.  The list would grow and the pressing priorities often changed the order of the repairs.  He was in his element, out of the house, keeping detailed expense logs and submitting them regularly for reimbursement.  With parking, he once mused that he earned a whopping $2.87/hour.

My dad’s least favourite ongoing maintenance was the regular cleaning of the sample roaster.  That’s not quite true. Peter disliked the poor design of the fan and its casing.  The fan was necessary to draw the smoke up the chimney flu and out the rooftop so the neighbourhood would know when we were roasting coffee beans.  After it had been cleaned, the casing which held the ‘squirrel cage’ fan had to mounted upside down and underneath the roaster.  He would lie on his back on the tile floor and, muttering under his breath, position the four tiny screws that needed to line up and be screwed into place.  Some times it took a long time to do that.

But I’m getting ahead of myself when talking about the repairs and maintenance of the original coffee roaster.

Peter would estimate how long he would need to park and then bring his various tools, often carrying them from the parking lot in six quart fruit baskets, the ones with the plastic handles.  He’d set everything down, pull out his handmade sign that read “Area out of Service for Repairs and Maintenance” and place it on the counter while he worked.

The Repair and Maintenance Man was on a first name basis with many of our regular customers

Peter was practical and prepared.  He would kneel on a pair of blue foam knee pads that he stole from their camping and canoe gear.  His glasses tilted down his nose and he smirked a lot.  At 11 o’clock in the morning, he would pull out his cheap china mug with the fifty dollar bill printed on the side and politely ask for a cup of coffee.  Break time.

Cleaning the Jabez Burns coffee roaster was a regular thing but random because some weeks, the machine was full of resin and chaff, and some weeks it wasn’t.  To disassemble and reassemble it was nothing less than an act of love.  It was all in the detail, finicky, time-consuming and necessary.  An uncleaned roaster and chimney created an enormous fire hazard.  At Christmastime my dad wasn’t much for presents but he’d remind me that small acts of kindness offered without expectation in return are the best presents.  He was right.

My dad didn’t understand specialty coffee but he believed in his daughter and that was the difference that made all the difference.

Repairs and Maintenance Man

Peter Ford, the Repair and Maintenance Man

About the author: Susan Bate
Nothing beats enjoying my morning coffee in the great outdoors