While it is true that staying at home and closing non-essential businesses has been vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19, we must ask ourselves as a nation, “at what cost?” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a statewide shelter-in-place order on March 19, which has halted each Californian’s unalienable right to their most basic, crucial, necessary necessity — burnt coffee from a 24 hour diner. Gov. Newsom, the time is now: reopen the state so that I may reprise my role as a mysterious stranger drinking burnt coffee while wearing a leather jacket in the corner of a 24 hour diner before it is too late.
If it were not for the 10 week quarter system, I would have surely lost track of the sheer amount of days, hours and minutes that I have foregone being at a 24 hour diner and drinking burnt coffee in a leather jacket. Seven weeks plus two from last quarter — voluntary self isolation (what a fool I was, to extend by my own hand denial of life’s simplest pleasure!) brings me to a grand total of nine weeks. Nine weeks without texting my friends at 2 a.m. to see if they want to get coffee while already on the drive there by myself, fully knowing their answer is no.
“Nic,” you might think, dear reader, “This satirical piece has no basis in reality and it is quickly boring me.”
Dear reader! It is not by my hand that “satire” appears as this article’s leading word. The same Editor in Chief that demands this lowly opinion editor to watch and review “The Bachelor” demands that my genuine opinions be labeled as such to avoid tarnishing the good name of the New University.
Behold! Undeniable proof of my night life.
I do not begrudge you for doubting me so, it is only by questioning everything that we can understand anything. But I implore you to direct your questioning at the tyrannical shelter-in-place order that is stopping me — and the U.S. people — from fraternizing with salt-of-the-earth folk who meander their way into a 24 hour diner under a moonlit night.
What Gov. Newsom fails to realize is that the burnt coffee available at 24 hour diners is unique to the diners themselves and the palettes of their drinkers. While Starbucks makes its name by offering coffee as sweetly and smoothly as possible, there exists an entire branch of society dedicated to tasting the exact opposite combination of bitter and burnt.
24 hour diners serve coffee 24 hours a day, meaning that they always have coffee brewing. Typically, this coffee is made from older, stale grounds that are a hodgepodge of the cheapest beans available, such as robusta beans which give a different flavor than the typical arabica beans found elsewhere. Constant brewing combined with a mix of beans gives 24 hour diner coffee its unique, burnt flavor that simply cannot be found elsewhere.
While Gov. Newsom may think that those in my boat can simply buy a diner coffee machine to get their fix, this elitist solution is simply not the case. A commercial grade diner coffee machine can run upwards of $700. While UCI has recently given me $700 for pandemic related expenses, I doubt university bureaucrats will see eye-to-eye on my justification here.
Without a commercial grade coffee machine of my own, I have had to resort to drastic measures that, if known by Gov. Newsom, would surely change his mind about the true cost of this pandemic. While lamenting to my colleagues about my current predicament, one of them suggested I simply run a pot of coffee through the machine twice.
“Yes!” I thought. “My salvation is here, running coffee through the machine twice will burn it and create a stronger, more bitter brew!”
I brewed a pot of coffee as normal, five scoops of the good stuff and eight cups of water. I then poured the brew back into the tank, the machine sputtered and protested at my sacrilege. The next brew took thrice as long, and when complete only four cups of coffee remained in the pot. I poured myself a mug and stared at the beautifully burnt specimen before me.
The first sip was manna from heaven. I had done the impossible — created a 24 hour diner coffee in my own home. Never again would I suffer a 20 minute drive for my elixir of life. But as the taste settled in my mouth, the unthinkable — nay, the unimaginable — occurred. The aftertaste of melted plastic coated my mouth like flex seal on the bottom of a boat. I knew this would be the first and last taste of my love that I would have in weeks, maybe months, so I swallowed the sip anyways. Afterward, defeated, I threw out my coffee machine.
Gov. Newsom, your constituents are hurting. We’ve done everything we can to make ends meet and make 24 hour diner coffee at home, but our best is not good enough. I urge you to reopen the beautiful state of California and allow those of us who wear leather jackets while drinking burnt coffee on a lonely stool in a 24 hour diner to resume our normal lives before more coffee machines are hurt.
Nicolas Perez is the 2019-2020 Opinion Co-Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.