“It’s like this,” JP said, gesturing at the glass of wine between us. It was back-lit by the small candle on the table, next to the plate with the three truffles – correction, one truffle and two half-eaten truffles – and adjacent to a pinot grigio shedding an amber glow. “There are a lot of people who would enjoy this vintage. But they only appreciate what’s in the glass. They love the taste, maybe the aroma, enjoy the effects of the alcohol. And that’s where it stops.”
We were sitting in CafeTaste, a lovely little wine cafe in Toronto whose owner, Jeremy, has super powers.
Let me digress for a moment to tell you about Jeremy. His passion is wine, and when he comes to your table, he will not ask you what kind of wine you want. Instead, he will ask you how your day was, what you had for lunch. He might ask what you enjoy doing in the summer, and what kind of candy you liked as a child. He’ll ask what level of Call of Duty: Black Ops you’ve last completed, and perhaps if your parents have any tattoos. Jeremy then will nod decisively and say “I have something I want you to try.” Moments later he will return to your table with a tasting glass of a wine you never heard of that rolls over your tongue like a sweet gentle sleepy Sunday morning orgasm and sinks through your palate and into your spine where it will echo for days afterwards.
Jeremy is amazing that way. But JP was talking about service.
“Service is like this wine,” JP said. “If you only appreciate the wine in the glass, you have reduced it to product. To accept it gracefully, you have to appreciate process. These truffles…” He looked at DNGG, seated next to me, enjoying her Merlot. “I know you don’t care for chocolate much, but if you did, you should try one of these, because they are – ” and then he made a gesture with his hand, like palming a basketball over the tiny plate of rounded treats. It was a Jedi benediction and under it the plate seemed to lift a tiny “Hallelujah!”, echoing JP’s wordless tribute to the tiny perfect balls of chocolate paradise.
“They do look wonderful,” DNGG smiled, graciously, and he smiled back.
“Yes. You see? Even not liking chocolate, you can tell that they are – ” and he made that gesture again. DNGG laughed at his silent eloquence, and I couldn’t help but admire the way he proved his point. If a truffle is so good that you can enjoy it without ever having it pass your lips, that’s one seriously bad-ass chunk of sweet.
JP picked up a piece, the remains of the Single Malt Scotch truffle. “Service is process. It never comes to an end. Instead, it comes to rest. It doesn’t resolve.” He popped it into his mouth, closed his eyes, and let the flavor sweep through him.
I picked up my wine glass, swirled it a bit, appreciating the chill waves through the glass as the liquid flowed past my fingertips. I thought about a woman I knew who had told me about a different level of service, beyond following orders, beyond anticipating wants. She had found of a kind of service where the one she served wasn’t even aware that she was doing things he didn’t even know was necessary. And yet she did them, and they sustained her.
JP would understand the proper way to appreciate that kind of service, I thought. Me? Well… I sipped the wine, wishing I could remember what label it was.
JP lifted his hand to catch Jeremy’s attention. “Coffee?” Across the room, the man nodded. He didn’t need to ask how JP wanted it.
And JP appreciated that. Gracefully.