Coffee......A Story About How Coffee Changed my Life...Chapter One!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska

This is a story about how coffee changed my life and about the friends that I have made over a cup or two of coffee.

So grab a cup of Joe (maybe two) and relax and take a gander.  

I am not really sure when I started liking was not as a kid as I always thought it was too bitter.  Even as a young adult I could drink about anything but usually stayed away from coffee.

My roommate always made a pot and I loved the smell...just not the taste.

Then the summer of my 20th year of life came around back in the early 70's and I got hired by the local City Utilities...and they loved their Folgers...  (I still prefer Folgers today)   Folgers Coffee in the Morning Mike McCann

Of course I loved coffee breaks when I was working that summer job for the City of St Paul, NE and rather than be teased by the old boys...I drank that chunky crap they loved... Billy Harvey...Burgess Powell...Leo Buhrman...and of course Alma O'Neil who ran the front office and fielded all of the phone calls and walk-ins.

Oh the stories those boys told...Daryl Harvey...a heavy equipment operator and Howard Potts...the local plumber would join us many days. 

The 15 minute break some days stretched into 45 minutes in the cool backroom of the city office...everyone sitting around a large round table...with a cup of coffee in one hand and cigarette in the other...except for me and Howard.  I did not smoke...and Howard hated cigarettes and instead smoked a huge cigar everyday.  I swear his face was permanently crooked from that stogy in the corner of his lips.

You could cut the air with a knife the smoke was so thick. That was the norm back then...I did not need to smoke...I had inhaled it from the time I was born. It was part of life and no one gave it a thought...

Many of them were Veterans...most older adults at that time were...and the stories about war and what they saw and did were almost hard to believe...but that is a blog for another time...

Anyways...I thought this summer gig was just a job and never realized at the time that we were not really talking about day to day activities...they were really teaching me about life and relationships and loyalty and friendship...and about hard work... and laughter... sadness...and how those emotions play out in an adult setting with other adults.

Along the way I learned so much about electricity and water and yes...even sewer that even today... the last time a plumber or electrician was at our home was when it was built in 2003...they taught me how to do everything...wiring...welding...soldering out for the other guy.  

I thought I was a man when I went there for the summer...and a year and half later I left grateful and so much closer to actually being a man. 50+ year old men taught me how to really work...because any cocky 20 year old does not want to be shown up by an old man!

Many times we were in dangerous situations as that is just part of that type of job (even today) and they coached and taught me how to really stop, look, and listen in a dangerous situation.  Most tragedies happen still today because someone skips a step in the process and they get careless. 

The Boys (that is what Alma called everyone) taught me how to run heavy to lay thousands of bricks after entire streets were torn up from a sewer collapse...and mow the "stones" out at the to climb a high object or pole or building or tower be cautious when going above or below the earth's surface with water lines, sewer gases, natural gas, electricity, and the dirt....perhaps the most dangerous thing in my opinion...DIRT... that can swallow you up in a silent avalanche in seconds. Doesn't matter that you are only buried for a minute or two or three...the pressures and lack of oxygen can be deadly. 


I almost found out the hard way when a dirt bank collapsed on me...I was bent over working on a pipe when Billy hollered to "GET OUT"  I did not say huh or what?... I just started moving...I still was buried up to the waste and where I had been bent over was under 5 or 6 foot of sticky wet dirt.   It took almost 15 minutes to dig me out...had Billy not hollered I would not be writing this. I was black and blue on my legs for weeks...

I always thought he was shi++ing me when he always said he was the 'Lookout'.

"One in the hole and one out" was his motto.   I remember him telling me..."If I yell GET OUT...move as fast as you can and get out...drop the tools and run"...every time I entered a hole he said that...I never went into any hole without him there and to this day in 2019...I still think of him and his rule whenever I see someone in a  hole...

I had 4 or 5 extra Dad's looking out for me during that 17 months or so  that I had the job and they all became lifelong friends and most of the things they taught me I have passed on to others.

They also let me step on my toes many times when I would get cocky or not listen very well.  And laugh as I did whatever it was I did wrong....over and over until I got it right.  I appreciate that now as well.

I started out as a grunt skipping college and when I left to go back to college I was so much more knowledgeable and had so much more respect for the working man.   

My last day there...they had a big going away cake at break time. We sat for about an hour and laughed and drank coffee and some of the other old guys came in that I had worked with and through the haze of their cigarettes and one stogy. We shared stories of my escapades while there and I said goodbye to what I later realized was one of the best experiences of my break with chunky coffee.


They are all gone now...and I cried when Billy died...a lot.   Most still have family back home.  I stop by their 'stones' and give them crap every once in a while.  I sold the farm for the kids of one them two years ago...LEO LAND it was called. All because their Dad liked me and I listened to his instructions...they said. 

I still see three of their wife's....usually at the coffee shop and will sit and chat with them a while...over a cup of coffee.

I am so grateful for what those men taught me and I wonder if I ever thanked them enough. I hope so.

I could actually spend hours and hours writing about it but...I think it is time to go warm up this cup and get ready for a hunting trip with my son...back home in the St Paul area where we will drive to the coffee shop on brick streets that I laid each brick by hand...46 years ago when I was a 20 year old nobody.

Until next time...when I write Chapter 2 about my 94 year old current client that I met at a coffee shop....stay thirsty my friends!!

Posted by


Mike McCann Nebraska Land Broker This has been Mike McCann...Nebraska Land Broker...Coming to you from the Farm Land of Nebraska and America!! Visit me at to learn more about the agricultural and farm land for sale market. 

Many farms For Sale in Nebraska are not listed publicly...please call, text, or e-mail with your questions, wants, and needs!

Mike is your Ag, Farm, and Auction expert throughout Nebraska!

308-627-3700 and 800-241-3940 call or text me at these numbers or for easy e-mail access! Mike McCann Nebraska Land Broker


Comments (48)

Dwight Puntigan
DRP Realty, LLC - Saint Peters, MO
Dwight Puntigan

The school of life is always an opportunity to learn and grow.  Listening and communicating are key.  I still learn some lessons the hard way.

Nov 16, 2019 07:56 AM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Loved reading  your story.  I felt like I was there!  What a beautiful message about you, and all the life lessons learned, and the people who were part of your world and how they impacted your life.  I love coffee! So you had me there! Thank you Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker 

Nov 16, 2019 08:03 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

The old days!  A great story--I would have immediately panicked in the hole!  The Boys taught you so many of the Boys are left in this world???  The hard working, physical labor they much DIY, real skills that served you all this time...very nostalgic.

Nov 16, 2019 08:52 AM
Greg Mona
eXp Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

Thanks so much for sharing your story Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker. It's still refreshing to read about younger folk learning from and appreciating their elders. Yes, we seasoned folks DO have a lot to offer in the way of sound advice and life's experiences, but it sometimes seems like younger people don't care as much about that as they used to. Anyway, I really enjoyed your story!

Nov 16, 2019 09:49 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Mike,
Loved reading your story. I learned to drink coffee with the guys and gals at my first office job. They were all quite a bit older than me and had a lot of wisdom. I remember when I turned 21 the no-nonsense office manager (who was probably in her mid 60's) gave me a birthday party and served martinis.  That was my first martini. That was the moment I understood how a drink can be "dry".  LOL

Nov 16, 2019 11:11 AM
Jill Watts
Realty Pro, Inc. - Vancouver, WA
A Luxury Experience at Every Price Point!

Beloved friendship.  Teaches all of us readers a good lesson.

Nov 16, 2019 11:41 AM
Century 21 BJ Roth Realty Ltd., Brokerage - Adjala Tosorontio, ON

Nothing like advice and memories shared by our elders. Thanks for sharing.

Nov 16, 2019 06:36 PM
Thom Abbott |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living - Atlanta, GA
Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale

What a great story....I can remember when and where I started drinking coffee. I was living in the Fountainbleau Hilton in Miami Beach. I had been transferred there from South Carolina. I was at dinner in the Dining Galleries...the high end restaurant of the hotel. 

I always saw people have coffee after dinner. So I tried it...with cream of course...and have rarely been able to drink it black...but I can in a time of desparate need! LOL! 

Now...I can easily consume a full pot a day...may not be good for me? I know it certainly will keep my from having really pearly white teeth for sure. 

But a cup of coffee is the first thing I do each morning. Which leads to another...and another and....well...

Nov 17, 2019 05:44 AM
Mitch Muller - Charlotte NC Real Estate
ProStead Realty Charlotte, NC CRS SRES - Charlotte, NC
Certified Residential Specialist

What a great story Mike! I've made a lot of friends and had countless conversations over the years in coffee shops, diners and dives. Really loved your story and can't wait to read more! Glad you're still around to write them! :-)

Nov 17, 2019 07:09 AM
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker This is one of the best blog posts I have ever read.    I'm really touched.     You can really spin a yarn.   Thank you!

Nov 17, 2019 09:09 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


What a beautiful story.  We met our co-patent writer and dear friend over coffee. Thank you for sharing this with us.  A

Nov 17, 2019 09:35 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you for sharing a great story, Mike, and some valuable life lessons!


Nov 17, 2019 09:52 AM
melissa jordan
Not affiliated - Magna, UT
I'm currently attending Real Estate school

Follow the greatest leaders and become a great leader!  Thank you for such an ispirational post! I was almost to tears at the end, but I sucked it up because I'm sure that's not the point of your blog.   

Nov 17, 2019 10:50 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

That's a great story!  You were lucky to have so many mentors back then in the smoke filled coffee break room!

Nov 17, 2019 03:57 PM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

HI All...Thank you for the incredible comments.  Just got back to a computer and will try to thank all of you. Hunting with my son was awesome...we came up a bit short on filling the freezer ... but the memeory bank got some new great stories!! 

Nov 18, 2019 05:41 PM
Eva B. Liland Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service 661-714-1643

I loved your story, so many memories, especially about me disliking coffee! Now I love coffee and drink it all the time. The friendship you will form, listening and learning from the elders, nothing can replace that.

Nov 19, 2019 05:45 AM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

Great story Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker . I didn't have my 1st cup until I was in my 30's. Now I joke (but it's true) that I try to limit myself to two pots a day. BTW I buy the cheapest coffee I can find and I drink every drop that Mr. Coffee (not Keurig) makes.

Nov 22, 2019 07:21 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker - There is so much gratitude in your heart screaming to be told through good storytelling like this one. It really takes a village to raise a boy into a man or a girl into a woman. 

This story was so inspiring, I feel like I didn't just have a sip of coffee, but the whole pot and it's simmering inside with lots of emotions. Please don't stop writing material like this. You do it so well. 

Dec 05, 2019 11:06 AM


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