You’re coming on a little strong, Coach Ben…

I have a second job that I work on the weekends at a locally owned coffee shop near my property.  I took it on because my sweet husband is a business owner and his company wasn’t really performing as well as we had thought and I panicked and picked up a side gig.  I probably could scrape by without it; since we simultaneously got a roommate that pays 1/3 of the household bills and helps out but I really like working at the coffee shop. Working at the coffee shop gives me an opportunity to be “not in charge” when I feel like I’m in charge all the time in all other areas of my life. The people who work there are always barrels of laughs and I can genuinely say I really enjoy every person I work with.  The owner is very hard-working and you can tell she cares about her customers and the employees as well.  It’s a great place to be and I’m glad to be a part of that team.

One of gals I work with is in her late 20’s and has worked at the shop for about a year.  She knows the customers and they love her.  She is a hard worker and has a kind heart; even if she does tell me she hates me sometimes, I think it’s out of love. To be completely honest, I’m a bit of a goofball at work and I think she is unsure how to react so she just tells me she hates me. But I know the truth.

A few weeks ago, I was telling this girl at the coffee shop about a resident of mine that makes regular morning visits to the leasing office; his name, as it is usually marked on the back of his shirts, is Coach Ben. We call him Coach, for short.  Coach is a retired YMCA youth coach.  He moved into the community at the beginning of the year because he had suffered from a stroke and needed to move in with a family member while he rehabilitated.

Coach stops into the office every morning with his plastic travel coffee cup wearing athletic clothes and a smile.  He loves the office girls.  When I first started here, he would be in my assistant’s office all the time telling her his personal problems he was having with the woman he lives with and basically venting his whole life to her.  After a few months of this though, my assistant quit paying attention to him and he started coming to see me instead. We have a good time; I’m a goofball with him as well.  He has a ring tone that reminds me of the beginning of a news hour so when his phone rings and he’s in my office I start dancing and then start broadcasting the news, “TODAY ON COACH BEN…” He acts like he hates it but I think he has a good time. I’m having a good time so even if he’s not, it doesn’t really matter because he needs to lighten up a bit.

Coach wears these plastic bracelets that you might make while attending a YMCA camp.  They are plastic beads on an elastic band and they have letters that spell out things like, “COACH” or “BEN” and one day I mentioned to him that I wanted one, mostly as a joke, but he took me seriously and asked me what colors I liked and then ran off to work on it.  The next day I had a bracelet that said my name in big block letters.  A few days later he came in with another one that had the property  name on it. The day after that, he came in with one that said, “THE BOSS” which, I have to say is my favorite. I now have five bracelets. Coach made bracelets for all the leasing girls.  He was really into it and it was pretty funny to get one.

I told the gal at the coffee shop about these bracelets and Coach and she thought he sounded sweet and said she wanted to meet him.  I can’t say I set it up, because I didn’t, but Coach did end up visiting me at the coffee shop one weekend when I was working with this girl.  They met and she mentioned the bracelets and how she wanted one. And just like before, the next day at the property Coach came in with a bracelet for this girl with her name in big block letters. I sent her a text with a picture of it and said I would bring it in to work when I picked up my paycheck. He asked me to tell him when she was working but I said I could not and that I would deliver the bracelet. He argued a bit but I held my ground and said I could not share her work schedule with him for two reasons: One, it’s against the rules and Two, it’s super creepy.

The following day, the gal I work with sent me a text with a picture of a handwritten message for her to call Coach with his cell phone number.  He had called the coffee shop looking for her.  The day after that, Coach showed up to the coffee shop and gave this gal another bracelet that said “PRINCESS”. She sent me a text about that too. I started to worry that Coach was coming on too strong for this gal. He is twice her age and showing a lot of interest in someone he met one time.

The next time I saw Coach, which was of course, the next day, I teased him about calling her and showing up at her job. He deflected and changed the subject so I didn’t pry but when I saw this girl the next time I was at work at the coffee shop she mentioned he had called her at work twice and showed up to give her that “Princess” bracelet.  She also said she wasn’t sure why he was calling her.  We had a good laugh about it but when it really got down to it, he was creeping her out and I had to get him to stop.

Coach came to the coffee shop that Sunday and the first thing he said to my co-worker was, “Why haven’t you called me back?!”  She didn’t know what to say and it got really awkward.  I started talking to him to relieve her but other customers were coming in and I had to help them.  Coach sat next to the espresso machine and watched me make drinks while my co-worker took a break with a friend of hers that had stopped in for a few minutes.  He asked what was wrong with her and I made something up that she was mad at me so she went outside. I didn’t want to tell him he was creeping her out because I didn’t want to have some sort of confrontation in the coffee shop; there were several people around and I didn’t want to embarrass him or have him confront her.

When my co-worker finished her break she went into the back of the shop and worked on some dishes while she chatted with the owner of the shop.  Coach sat patiently while I made some drinks but finally got up and asked me to ask my coworker what security company she had worked for in the past as she had mentioned it might be a good fit for him since he’s retired. I asked her and she said they were out of business and when I told Coach he rolled his eyes and said he had to go. After he left, my co-worker told me he was creeping her out and I had to do something about it. I said I would, but we still had a good laugh about it.

So now it’s up to me to get this old man to leave this girl alone. I knew I had to shoot him straight because that is how he would want it and the next day when I came into the office, before I could even put my bag down, Coach was standing in the door to my office.  He asked again what was wrong with my co-worker and I just plainly said, “You’re creeping her out. You’re coming on too strong and you’re creeping her out. You called her job twice and then showed up after meeting her one time.”  His mouth dropped open.  He was caught completely off guard by this accusation. He argued that I “had it all wrong” and that he wasn’t trying to pursue her but rather talk to her about the security job.  I really wasn’t in the mood to discuss it any further and I just told him to leave her alone. If he wants to talk to her, he needs to go through me.  He said “liaison” and I nodded my head.

I feel bad for the guy. I think his stroke has changed his mind a little and sometimes these sort of situations aren’t as obvious to him as they are to me but I don’t treat him any different. I guess that’s why he likes me so much. I just give him the honest truth with no sugar-coating; I don’t have time to sugar coat, and I’m not good at it anyway.

The whole conversation took maybe 10 minutes and I told him I had to get to work. You could see he was a little sad when he left but he thanked me for being honest with him.

We haven’t seen Coach today…yesterday he came in mumbling something about maybe this is “so long, maybe not” and I’m guessing it’s something to do with the woman he’s living with upstairs.  He’s shared a lot of his life with us but I think there is more than what he even lets on; hopefully it’s not the last time we see Coach Ben.


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