Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is city editor of the Napa Valley Register.

Morning routines at the Courtney household are carefully calibrated affairs. Merely switching cars for the day can create chaos.

On the day in question, Cheryl's Prius was going into the shop for routine maintenance. I was going to deliver it, then walk to the Register office. Cheryl would drive my clunker to her job.

Simple stuff, only I got distracted writing a note for the mechanic and tracking down Cheryl's spare key. I was almost at the mechanic's before realizing I'd left my coffee at home.

Perhaps this shouldn't have been a crisis, but it was. I NEVER go to work without my tumbler filled with home-brewed Starbucks French Roast. It's my first caffeine of the day.

I dropped the car and began walking to work, all the while thinking how to survive my boneheaded oversight. I'm not saying I couldn't have survived a day without coffee from home, but I didn't want to put this scenario to the test.

One obvious solution was to switch to the free coffee that's available in the Register lunch room. But having managed to go years, even decades, without tasting this suspect brew, why capitulate now?

Was I being irrational? Maybe even a little snobbish?

I couldn't say. My uncaffeinated brain wasn't functioning so great at that moment.

At the office, I settled in at my work station and immediately began to feel queasy. I theorized caffeine withdrawal. How could it NOT be caffeine withdrawal? 

I sipped water to possibly trick my mouth while planning my next move.

What I came up with was this: I would hope that Cheryl would save me.

At that moment Cheryl was five miles away, getting ready for work herself. Perhaps she would discover my left-behind tumbler on the kitchen counter. 

And if she did, perhaps she would commit to driving a couple of miles out of her way and bring it to me.

I could not ask this of her, of course. I am not a complete baby. But I could hope.

I decided to hold out for 30 minutes before further contemplating the lunch room swill.

Very little journalism happened in that 30 minutes. I mostly wondered about addiction and how Starbucks had managed to snare me. I was such a pushover.

I also thought about my marriage. Wouldn't it be marvelous to be married to a person so in tune with her spouse that she would forgive his forgetfulness and rigid coffee habits and go on a rescue mission?

Minutes ticked by. Cheryl was probably about to leave for work. The tumbler on the kitchen counter, Cheryl! Please, please notice.

My cellphone vibrated. It was Cheryl! Had I forgotten anything?

Instantly, angels hovering over my office pod burst into the "Hallelujah Chorus."

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Unprompted, Cheryl volunteered to drop off my coffee. It's practically on her way, she said.

The Register was not practically on her way, but I wasn't about to quibble.

Thank you, I said. I'm not feeling so great right now.

And since I was confessing things, I also admitted messing up her radio settings and adjusting her small-person car seat settings when I drove her Prius to the shop.

Cheryl was unfazed. I'm on my way, she said.

Ten minutes later my phone buzzed again. I'm turning up Soscol, Cheryl said.

When she drove onto Vallejo Street, there I was, curbside, hand out, waiting for deliverance.

Best mug of coffee ever.

Recounting this tale of coffee lost, coffee restored warms the cockles of my heart. Who else on this planet would have saved my day the way Cheryl did? No one, that's who.

I voiced appreciation that night at dinner. Cheryl reciprocated with appreciation of her own. I was her hero for arranging her car's routine servicing. 

I think we each married the right person.

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Kevin can be reached at 707-256-2217 or Napa Valley Register, 1615 Soscol Ave., Napa, 94559, or kcourtney@napanews.com.


City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.