After the jump: an obituary by Stranger reader and O.C.C. fan Sarah.
Tonight I walked 10 blocks, lugging 17-inch too-heavy-laptop in tow, to get to one of my favorite spots to sip warm drink (soy hot cocoa, coffee, tea, etc) and write and email and enjoy the well-lit tables and nooks that make working so easy and friendly. When I got to the corner of 14th and Pine, I was greeted by an empty-looking Online Coffee Company with uncharacteristically loud music playing inside and someone holding the door. I hesitated towards the entrance, 'ooh, perhaps it's one of those times where they close the shop once a year to have an employee party or special event or something..' I mused. As I tried to edge back away from the door, the guy said, "We're closed but you can get a free beer."
"What?" I asked over the music.
"We're closed but do you want a free beer?" he asked invitingly.
I, in fact, did want a free beer but was startled by the question and remembered sadly that I am allergic to nearly all beer. I said with disappointment, "Thanks! but I'm allergic to beer."
"Well, do you wanna free coffee?"
And with that, he flung open the door, introduced me to another barista who left the mingling group up front and went behind the bar to fix me a drink.
I looked a bit bewildered around the place...if it was a party, shouldn't there be more than like 4 people? And why did those people seem a bit melancholy? Maybe it was early and the party was not yet underway, it was only about 8pm. Just then the barista said something I could not hear as she made my drink.
"I said, 'we're closing!'" she shouted.
"Um, ok...what do you mean, 'closing?'
"We're closed, this was our last day."
The finality of the word 'closing' finally hit me. "Um, so you mean closing, like forever closing?!" I looked incredulously at her.
The barista nodded, slow and heavy.
"But..what about the downtown shop? Or the one on Olive?"
"All closed," she shook her head.
"But I love this place. I come here all the time. It's the only place you can go if you don't have a computer with you and need to get online, and...I didn't even know this was happening.."
My voice trailed off as surprise turned to lethargy.
"I know, it was like home to me," the barista explained.
Now it was my turn to shake my head.
The barista indicated that the owner was the tall guy standing in the front group. I quickly took out my notebook, wrote a short good-bye-thank-you poem, handed it to the owner guy, thanked him for all the times I'd enjoyed his coffee shops and could swear I saw tears welling up in his eyes as I shook his hand.
Good-bye, Online Coffee Company.
Thank you, baristas for being so friendly and helpful. I will miss you. Lots of others in Seattle will miss you. And lots of travelers with and without laptops, will definitely miss you.
Thanks for all the good writing memories.