Saturday, October 28, 2006


all know someone who is under the influence of some sort of
addiction. Addicts and addictions come in all shapes and sizes and
some are even unrecognizable. The regular bingo hall fanatic who
carries a barrage of “good luck” charms, from lighters to troll
dolls; the street corner vagabond, who inheritently asks for spare
change in order to be able to afford the next trip to the liquor
store to acquire the cheapest bottle of wine available to him; or the
co-worker standing just outside the limits of the “smoke free zone”
in -30 C temperatures, frantically inhaling every molecule of
toxicity available within the slender white stick he holds between
his freezing fingers are all part of the ever increasing lot of
addicts. We’ve all seen them, we all know them, and in fact we may
be one of them.

Yes, my friends, I’m afraid our
society has created yet another bunch of addicts scurrying along the
sidewalks and haunting the streets of any urban centre. They are on
a quest for the ultimate experience and elation that only their
establishment of choice can provide. They are on continual alert
for the next buzz, the next hit of the drug of preference and the
next satisfying infusion of the much needed caffeine”ation” their
bodies require. Caffeine addicts are everywhere. On a never ending
quest to quiet the quivering quakes of need, the coffee addict does
not need to search long and far for a local dealer. Within his
native surroundings, the addict has no trouble finding a dealer, as
they can be found almost everywhere. Sentinels within the
distribution system that welcome passersby into their aromatic
interiors – a permanent thread within the community stained with
the hearts and minds of each soul it has served.

Rarely an urban street exists without
at least one Robin’s, Tim Horton’s or neighbourhood StarBucks
coffee saloon perched stoically upon the street corner. Its doors
open, allowing the scent of the freshly brewed drug to waft out onto
the street, enticing the passersby to enter the inner sanctum of a
caffeine wonderland. The drive through provides quick and painless
access to caffeine at almost every time of day. Upon entry, the
unsuspecting patron welcomes the scents of at least seventy-five
varieties of beans into his nostrils. He breathes deeply and
gingerly takes his place in line to await the soft words of the
resident coffee jerk, who is all too pleased to take his order. He
is comforted by the whirrs and swooshes created by the rows of
complicated and surgically precise machinery intent on preparing the
perfect combination of caffeine and its companions. Shivers of
anticipation pulse through his muscles, as he takes his place amongst
the hoards of other addicts intent on satisfying the insatiable need
for caffeine.

And so it begins. Another addict is
born. Soon he will be craving the warmth of the gourmet liquid
passing his lips on a regular basis. And by “regular basis” I
mean more than three gallons a day. He will vehemently deny that the
elixir is a drug at all. He will never admit to being an addict,
even though his daily quest for caffeine infused drinks will turn
into an hourly search for lattes, cappuccinos and espressos
complimented by a multitude of flavours ranging from the benign
vanilla enhanced syrup to the more “packed with a punch” extra
hit of espresso in order to fulfill the growing need inside him. He
will soon become a “pusher” in his own right. He will invite
other unsuspecting friends, co-workers and acquaintances to join him
at the local “bar.” They will enjoy conversations centering on
politics, music and the arts intermittently silenced only by the
ordering of the next round.

In the beginning the coffee addict is
amazed by the lingo. He is romanced by the various categorizations
of the order process. He will move from ordering a Tall (a fancy
name for a small) to the Grande (same fancy name but for a medium)
and then replace with the Supremo Grande and Ultimo Supremo Grande,
culminating in the regular ordering of La Bucket, which is the sure
sign of the ultimate caffeine addict. Previous to this evolutionary
journey, the addict was intimidated by the lingo and only through
regular visits does he begin to realize that “latte” is not
another word describing his race to the office through morning
traffic and that “espresso” did not determine the type of service
the local FedEx provided. He moved from patiently awaiting his turn
with the coffee jerk, who expertly described the delectable titles of
products listed in multi-coloured chalk upon the sign hanging
precariously from the ceiling above his head to demanding his
customized combination of the various chemicals necessary to create
his fix. He will frantically demand three hits of espresso and two
squirts of Tangarine flavoured syrup housed within two ounces of
house blend complimented by six ounces of Brazillian Special and
topped off with a double squirt of Chocholate Whipped Cream that
inevitably melts and sends the liquid brew flowing over the cup.
Only a seasoned and serious addict can avoid the mess by sacrificing
the tender skin upon his lips and tongue in order to gulp the boiling
liquid and avoid the inevitable spillage caused by the melting of the

But our unsuspecting patron has yet to
admit that he has a problem. Even though he will invariably fill his
travel coffee pail with the delectable and satisfying first hit of
the day from his home brewing system so that he will have something
to drink on the way to the local coffee saloon, he will not admit a
problem. And yes, even though he has now become one of the
“regulars” that likes to mix their own “special blends” for
the added “kick” that only a seasoned addict can handle, he will
not admit a problem. And in spite of daydreaming of the availability
of intravenous caffeine syringes and the belief that, with the right
amount of coffee and the most exquisite combination of chemicals, he
can even bend the laws of physics and someday control the universe,
he will not admit he has a problem.

Admitting an addiction can often take
time and patience – two things that do not belong within a coffee
addict’s arsenal of qualities. They often believe that sleep is
for the weak, that the “wee” hours of the morning were for
completed intricate and complicated tasks such as solving world
issues, threading needles, completing last minute assignments and, on
the occasion, attempt the act of sleeping. Within the caffeine
addicts circle of friends and acquaintances there is no hope of an
intervention. There is no availability of clinically induced
“dry-outs.” There are no addictions seminars nor does there
exist any version of a twelve step program that will ensure
successful elimination of the drug of choice from the system. For
the caffeine addict there is only the realization that every waking
moment be spent in search of a finer bean, a more caffeine infused
combination of chemicals and flavour enhancing “add-ins”
culminating in the acquisition of a most potent concoction whose only
purpose is to avoid the onset of the shakes, migraine pain akin to
child birth, and the jitters that often accompany a drop in the
blood’s caffeine levels. Only when he realizes that the quest for
caffeine occupies every moment of the day can he even be ready to
receive the realization that there might be a problem. At this point
the caffeine may be able to stop cold turkey and begin his journey
back from the depths of despair and be released from the grip of the
devil himself…Juan Valdez.

After some time has passed, the coffee
addict can now saunter down the busy urban streets laden with the
enticing scents of caffeine wafting from open doorways. Only after
some time has passed and he has overcome the migraines, quieted the
shakes and quivers and accomplished some much needed sleep can the
coffee addict to be able to resist the temptations offered by the
sights and sounds of the local saloon. He may still miss the sound
of the local musician lulling the crowd into a coffee enhanced
euphoric state. He may find himself craving the bitter sweat taste
of the noxious brew searing the first layer of skin of his tongue and
lips. He may even miss the jolting conversation and feverish race to
receive the next round before the first is consumed.

But he wishes to care for himself now.
He wishes to be out in the fresh air and be comforted by the sounds
of nature. After all it is the only place where he is allowed to
indulge in another, less controlling habit – cigarette smoking.

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