There are many words associated with a workplace: professional; personable; focussed; industrious; diligent; conscientious, and a great number of others. One word, however, would probably not make the list of most offices, shops, factories or restaurants: playful. Playful is for backyards, nursery schools, dog-parks and beaches. It is not usually associated with a place where meaningful work is done and goods must be prepared and served quickly and efficiently.
Em’s Cafe, in my hometown of Coldwater, breaks the mold. While the staff are indeed professional, personable, focussed, industrious, diligent, and conscientious, they are also the most playful people I have ever seen just about anywhere. Manager Kathy and employees Kim and Laura provide excellent service and delicious food and beverages. They take their jobs seriously and are clearly good at what they do, but it’s their interpersonal relationships that stand out.
Watching them work is a study in friendship and cooperation: one of the most frequently used phrases amongst themselves is: what can I do for you? They constantly have each other’s back and make sure that no-one is left lagging. They don’t walk behind the counter as much as they dance, moving around and past one another with efficiency and grace that would vie with the best ballerina. And they laugh and joke with one another in a way that fills the space with an infectious joy I’ve rarely seen in any other cafe, let alone any other workplace. In short, playfulness seems to be the order of the day creating a friendly, welcoming atmosphere that complements the quality of the food and coffees beautifully.
As a person of faith and a follower of Christ, to see people working together so well brings great joy to my heart. The sound of laughter accompanying the sounds of coffee brewing and soup pots bubbling is genuinely music to my ears. For me, the joy and playfulness of the three women behind the counter brings to mind a world where we humans genuinely enjoy one another. Their constant calls of “how can I help you?” or “what do you need?” speaks to me of a world where we look out for one another not as an obligation but out of a sense of true appreciation and love for our neighbour.
How would you describe your world? How would you describe the way you relate to others? If the word “playful” is one of the first words that comes to mind, you are truly blessed. If not, you might want to spend some time at a place like Em’s Cafe and see just how much a sense joy and playfulness can add to your life. There’s nothing like an excellent coffee served with a sense of care and joy that blends professionalism with a genuinely Christ-like appreciation of one’s neighbour.