blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Update from New Orleans Survivors, our green coffee brokers

Most of the green coffee that Phoenix Coffee purchases comes through the port of New Orleans. Our green coffee broker, John, and his wife, Sara live in the Garden District. Instead of evacuating, John and Sara stayed put. Courageous? Or not-so-bright? Well, that's always a difficult call to make. Their house made it through the storm virtually unscathed, but Cathy, who works in their office, lost her house entirely. She is now in Baton Rouge. John and Sara have an attitude about life that is frighteningly similar to mine. I admit, I would have been tempted to stay, too. It's the adventurer in me, I guess. Now John and Sara are living in what seems like a new frontier. Their neighborhood is a ghost town, and going to get food involves organized looting of the local Whole Foods Market, with the alarm going off the whole time and a police man supervising their shopping in the dark amidst the heavy stench of putrified perishables.

They have been signed up for pet rescue by Sara's sister, so they are now being contacted by dozens of displaced New Orleans residents who were forced to leave their pets in their houses. This means that they have to go break into these homes (using an axe or another equally barbarian method) and feed the animals, clean litter boxes, and if possible, let the dogs out into the back yards so that they have somewhere to go relieve themselves. So it's basically like pet sitting for dozens of animals. John adopted a chihuahua (a rat with wings, he calls it) that had been locked in a bathroom. He said that when the dog first emerged he was all excited and anticipating his owner, only to look up and see John. After a few moments of fright, he quickly warmed up, because, as John said, "He must have realized that I was his only ticket out of there."

John was on the Canadian news the other day. He has also been in the LA Times and other publications because there are so few people still left in the city. John is particularly noteworthy because he has resumed his daily routine of going running every morning, which is what attracted the recent attention from the Canadian media. They wanted to know what he was doing. He said he was jogging in an attempt to re-establish his daily routine. Previous to the arrival of the National Guard, jogging was out of the question since it was a serious risk to leave the house unarmed. Now, Sara reports, things feel more safe.

No question that John and Sara are survivors. They are tough. Most of us probably would have wigged out by now. They lived for several years in Guatemala, which they say is helping them to cope with such oddities as getting their personal hygeine from taking a bath in someone else's swimming pool. And John charges his laptop (they still have phone and internet service at their house but no electricity) by going down the street to borrow some juice from a friend who has a generator.

Sara said they even went to a party the other night, which was very strange. The party was hosted by the gentleman who also made this sign for his window:
"Don't try. I'm sleeping inside with a big dog, an ugly woman, two shot guns and a claw hammer. Looters will be shot."

Even stranger is the motley collection of people who are left in the neighborhood. An ex-stripper, a twenty something kid, John and Sara (in their thirties) and two other characters, bringing the grand total to six people.

John asked me if I had ever been through anything like this. I said no, the closest was when the power went out for a few days a couple of years ago. During that experience, it did seem like people were starting to come unhinged a little. I know I was. I can only imagine what a week, heck, months, of that kind of irregularity and difficulty would be like.


Post a Comment

<< Home