73. Denise Stutz, Coffee Shop Owner

Knowing when and what to order is critical to making money.

The real problem is getting good help. Denise is not warm and fuzzy by nature. She had to learn how to make people feel good about themselves. She also had to learn to be forgiving. And most of all, how to be patient. This was not easy for her. She was always something of a drill sergeant, even as a child. This could have been because her mother was so indulgent and because her father, who was more of a disciplinarian, was often away on job sites. Running a coffee shop is not what a lot of people think it is. Knowing when and what to order is critical to making money. Denise once had a manager who ordered ten gallons of cream when one gallon would have done. That cost a week’s profits. And when Denise broke her leg and her husband filled in for her, it took Denise months to set things right. Once, stuff like this would send Denise into screaming fits. Not anymore. Is she on medications? No. One answer might be that Denise had a baby. This was after she and her husband had tried for ten years. Whatever the reason, Denise rarely gets angry these days. Everything seems to be running more smoothly for her. She smiles more. And on top of that, where Denise was an active, and willful child, her daughter, Teresa, is bookish, easy-going quiet, and, apparently, very bright. Denise was just told they were thinking about having Teresa skip a grade. No one can figure where this comes from. Certainly not for Denise. She did well in school but was never interested in going beyond high school. And certainly not from Denise’s husband. Roland is bright enough but, like Denise, is anything but bookish. His real skill is with his hands. Runs a furniture upholstery business out of the garage out back their house. So, he sees what he calls Teresa’s “brainiacs” as some kind of freak of nature. Maybe. Maybe not. Denise works long hours and some of her customers come in and sit around for hours. There’s this one guy who comes in late in the day, two or three times a week. Gets a coffee, always sits at the same table near the cash register, and reads scientific papers. Now and again, he helps Denise brew coffee. He’s been doing this for about eight or nine years now. A biochemist by profession and something of a loner, he enjoys Denise’s company and, when she lets him, a chance to be useful. As he points out, making coffee and doing biochemistry aren’t all that different. And Denise has to admit to herself that, when he shows up, her day seems more than a bit brighter. So, you never know.

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