I am a creature of habit. Like many people, my daily schedule frames my day. I developed my breakfast routine many years ago as an antidote for the unplanned chaos of the job. I needed a transitional place to get my game face on, to leave my personal life behind, and gear up for my professional one. I eat the same breakfast at the same deli with a small seating area every day. I’ve done this for years. My name’s Gaffney. I wear a badge.
I’m a traditionalist. I like my eggs over easy and my bacon crisp. They don’t ask me, “what’s yours?” because they know what I want. No thank you, I do not want Egg Beaters, a Panini, a scone, or an artisan sandwich. I’m not even sure what an artisan sandwich is. I do celebrate clichés and have the occasional afternoon donut. I want my coffee with milk or half and half. Coffee must be unadorned with extra pumps, sprinkles, foam, caramel flavoring, or soy milk. Especially not soy milk. I’m having a cup of coffee not a milkshake.
I sit at the counter, read my paper, and load up on caffeine. I read the old-fashioned paper. I don’t want to read it on line. I like the kind of paper you can fold in half, rip an article out of, or prop up against the sugar container to read while you eat bacon. My deli has no living room chairs, jazz music, fireplaces or laptop docking stations. And that makes me happy. I’m as adept on my lap top as the next guy, but working on it over breakfast, well…just does not compute. I read the New York Post Sports section first and then the rest.
I listen to Westchester County buzz around me. Sometimes a citizen asks me questions, but mostly I just read my paper in silence. This suits me just fine. I am Joe Friday at the deli, a man of few words. I’m not on duty yet. I answer questions and solve problems all day long. My biggest issue first thing in the morning is making sure that the top on my second, “to go” cup of coffee is secured. I am particularly cautious, since my deli doesn’t label my coffee with a warning that it is hot. I have to fend for myself there. The deli’s owners just live life on the risk management wild side, I guess.
A few weeks ago, I worked on a federal holiday. It was 0800 hours and I was on the Boston Post Road. I started off on my morning routine, but the deli was closed. I drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry, so to speak. The sensation was disconcerting. No one checked with me when they closed the deli for Memorial Day. I went to another spot, but it just wasn’t the same. Tuesday was a much better day, because my spot at the counter was open again.
And that routine is part of what keeps this officer standing.
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