Sunday, April 20, 2008

St. Timothy's At Court - Opening Antics In Downtown Buffalo

Downtown Buffalo, NY, where I work, is noted as the area center for legal, governmental, and banking activities. It is also noted for having next to nothing else going on [my place of employment excepted]. So it's news when any new business not associated with the above opens up. The excitement was even greater when it was learned a Tim Horton's franchise was moving in to a building at a prominent corner - Main and Court.

[For those outside North America: Tim Horton's is an incredibly successful chain of coffee-and-donut shops. It was started in Canada by this man:

Tim Horton. He was a very successful professional hockey player of the 1960's and 70's, most notably with the Toronto Maple Leafs [yes, it is "Leafs", not "Leaves". No one seems to know why], New York Rangers, and Buffalo Sabres. During his years in Toronto, he started the chain of shops, and opened others here-and-there when he played in other cities. After his untimely death in an automobile accident, his company was acquired by the owners of the Wendy's fast food restaurant chain. Under its ownership, the Horton's shops have gained an almost religious popularity for their coffee [which by company policy is never allowed to age more than 20 minutes on a burner before being discarded. I'm not a coffee drinker myself, but I can appreciate the desire for a fresh cup]; their donuts are enjoyed, but not as esteemed as the brew.

So let's summarise; Your Reporter, non-coffee drinker, diabetic, just finished with an all-night shift. What is This Person doing, sitting in front of the about-to-open Tim Horton's? Well, as noted above, such events are few and far between in my little birthplace [pathetic, isn't it?]. And yes, I wanted a donut! (I'm not proud of myself for that, but I was fully prepared to forgive myself afterwards...) Just at that moment, however, there was some question if I would be able to enjoy said pastry. Scheduled to open promptly at 6 AM, there was still the kind of confusion I'd come to expect from dress rehearsal night in my community theatre days [list of roles available upon request]. People were looking in, gesturing to be admitted, being ignored, and walking on. It was interesting, but needed something special to take on the air of Street Theatre the day almost called for.

Suddenly God provided [How often in our darkest hours does that happen? And how seldom do we acknowledge it?]. What God provided in this case was exactly what was needed; an older, infirm woman, loudly chatting to every passer-by how the shop's posted hours said it would be open at Six. "C'mon, open up", she half-screamed at the locked door, "I need to eat breakfast soon. Don't make me walk to your other branch [three or four blocks further; I think she could have managed it, but she didn't want to, and felt she shouldn't have to]". Clearly, God had outdone Himself! The crowd inside stopped putting up the "Grand Opening" signs and balloons; the growing crowd outside watched the unexpected show with obvious glee. (I was worried when she started using the rubber tip of her cane on the door, in a futile attempt to rush things along; I didn't want to see Our Star getting into trouble. But it did add to the festivities...)

Just then, the manager timidly approached the door [bad sign; if he wasn't ready for her, he may not have been ready for the collection of Unusual Types that populate any city's downtown district]. "I'm sorry", he began, "Our cash registers aren't ready yet. It's going to be another ten or fifteen minutes". I looked at the time. I couldn't wait; I had a bus to catch [neither could our entertainment; she started hoofing it to the other branch. But she wasn't happy...]. Then again, the show had been sweeter than any treat I might have snagged inside.

Unexpected moments are always the best. I hope your week isn't too scripted...

-Mike Riley


Majik said...

Tim Horton's is huge here, Starbucks not so much. I think its because my home town is home to Tim Horton's Store #1. Its good hear that a Canadian classic is breaking ground in the States!