You Must Know Ira, Don’t You?

Do they (‘they’ being Brandon and Stephanie of Power Coffeeworks) know their customers, or do they know their customers???!!! I was a little behind schedule reaching their premises this past Thursday. First I had to help Lazer bring up an a/c unit for my office. (I wasn’t going to make him carry the 30+ kilo compressor unit up two flights of stairs by himself.) Then I headed into Jerusalem, getting off the Light Rail at the center of town to drop into Sefer Ve Sefel, the go-to place for gently used English language books. I struck up a lively conversation with the owner, Michael Rose, about the virtues of Raymond Chandler and the differences in quality between him and all the detective story wannabes who have been imitating him over the years. Sure enough, the bookstore had maybe 50 examples of the genre by Michael Connelly and not one – not one! – by Chandler. Vey iz mir.

Therefore, I was somewhat late arriving at Power and was mighty thirsty when I did. Before I could put my backpack down and put in my order, Brandon hit me with this: You must know Ira, don’t you? Was this a question or a matter of affirmation? And which Ira are we considering? Ira Skop, replied Brandon. You two are so much alike. (He is also, I understand, a caffeine connoisseur.)

I know of Ira; his wife, Beth Steinberg, is the founder of Shakespeare in the Rough, a theatrical company that every summer puts on one of the plays in a Jerusalem park, and Ira usually takes a principal role. Their son Nathan I sort of know from his slight involvement with Encore! over the years. You might say that Ira and I have led parallel lives, but, as I pointed out to Brandon, parallel lines never meet – at least in Euclidian geometry.

Brandon resumed roasting coffee, and I put in my order, a cold brew liberally laced with soy milk. No matter how much I ‘nurse’ my coffee, at some point my cup will be empty and I will be faced with the need to head across the street to the shuk. As a matter of course, I first head up the stairs to the lavatory, which is much friendlier than the comparable ones in the shuk.

I should mention that Power Coffeeworks, by its very nature, is the kind of place where customers bring books to swap, leaving them in a box near the entrance or on shelves upstairs. There are even some placed strategically in the loo for one’s delectation. I happened to notice on the window ledge a book opened to a page with the following inscription, which leapt out at me: Christmas, 1938…UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3dea Jumping Josephat, that not-so-gently-used book with the lovingly inscribed writing is older than I am! I very carefully turned the page back so I could read the title. Toby Tyler? Apparently very popular, but unknown to me.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3deb

I walked out into the bright sunlight on Agrippas Street, in time to witness the changing of the guard. Stephanie got out of a car to take over running the business; Brandon got into the car, presumably to go home. I leaned in and told him about the ancient inscription I had seen in his very own public toilet. He jumped out of the car, asking me to watch it for him, and ran back into Power to tell Stephanie all about this amazing find. He returned with the following: Of course, Stephanie knew about Toby Tyler. She had deliberately put the book there, open to the inscription. She knew that there would be two of their customers who would be blown away by it: Fred and the very same Ira!

Do they know their customers, or do they know their customers???!!! Maybe some day I’ll get to share a cup of something with Ira. It’s only right.


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