I opened my eyes just in time to see the sun peek out over the trees on the east side of the backyard that morning. As I attempted to focus, the light spilled in between the slats of my blinds, revealing the dust in every corner of my bedroom.
I began my morning routine, the same routine I had done every day since I was 12. Go to the bathroom, shower, brush my teeth, get dressed. Every day the same thing.
In fact, it seemed nothing different ever happened. I walked out my front door with keys in hand, their jingling momentarily distracting me from the monotony that had become my life, before being brought back to reality by a glance at my watch.
Right on time. I was always right on time.
Pulling up in front of the coffee shop down the street from my office, I dashed in for my Grande Double Cappuccino, extra foam. The baristas knew better than to offer me one of the specials. Unless the special was a Grande Double Cappuccino, extra foam, I wasn’t interested. I know how I feel about my drink, so why would I risk ordering a Chai Latte or Pumpkin Americana? I don’t know what Chai is, and I have no interest in finding out.
That’s when I noticed him in the corner.
At first glance, you wouldn’t think anything of him. He wore a hat pulled low, nearly covering wire framed sunglasses as he sipped from a cup of coffee. Nearby, two men in sunglasses glanced furtively around the room.
A man at a nearby table read his newspaper, oblivious to the fact that the article he was skimming was about someone only two tables away from him.
The president was getting coffee.
You often think about the president eating with foreign dignitaries and shaking hands with various prime ministers. Seeing him here, though, was similar to seeing your teacher at the supermarket as a kid: you always knew that they had a life outside of their job, but actually seeing it makes you a little uneasy.
I couldn’t help but stare as he put down his coffee and picked up the driest of pastries: the scone. I myself had never cared for scones. They always seem dried out and hard. Maybe that was why I wasn’t president, I thought to myself.
Suddenly, his hands jumped from the tabletop to his throat. He began to gasp for air around the bite of scone that had successfully lodged itself in his throat.
I glanced over at the Secret Service agents, only to find them preoccupied with a female barista. While their boss choked on a scone, they were attempting, rather unsuccessfully, to score some time with a ditzy blonde co-ed.
With not a second to lose, I sprang into action. The attention of the entire coffee shop turned towards me as I left a clatter of metal furniture and coffee cups in my wake.
I reached the president as his face began to turn an unnerving shade of blue. My brain immediately tapped into the knowledge I had gained from my fifth grade health class. In between telling us about our changing bodies and immerging feelings of attraction lay a piece of knowledge I had never used and never would again: the Heimlich maneuver.
While most people hope to shake the president’s hand someday, I had the unique pleasure of hugging him from behind and squeezing the living daylights out of him.
Left arm around, right arm around, thrust.
And with that, a piece of cranberry scone flew out of his mouth towards the crown of onlookers. A look of shame crept onto the Secret Service men’s faces as air hit the president’s lungs again, filling them.
The crowd began to clap and cheer as the president turned to face me, his hero.
“Thanks for the help, son,” he said to me, a look of relief on his face.
“Anytime, Mr. President. Anytime.”
If it hadn’t been for my routine that day, I never would have had the time to stop at that coffee shop. Who knows what would have happened to the president that day?
Fortunately, my routine allowed me to be on time and be there at that precise moment to save the president.
And that is why punctuality is important, kids. So stop lollygagging and get in the shower. We’re going to be late.
- Monks, Friars, and Coffee (blogcritics.org)