- Product: 11oz Custom Mug
- People: Phil & Jean
- Use: Distanced coffee dates with a best friend
Every Sunday for the past two and a half years, Phil and his best friend Jean went out to breakfast. When they’d met, courtesy of the internet, he was newly widowed, and she’d been widowed and then divorced, and neither, it turned out, was looking to do it all again. But the connection was undeniable, Phil, now 71, recalls. “She and I were just instant best friends,” he says.
So here was their routine: on Sunday mornings, Phil would pick Jean up at 8am, and they’d head to one of their usual places around Orlando. He’s an omelet guy. She’s big on egg-and-fried-green-tomato sandwiches. They share a mutual appreciation for well-executed grits.
And then, in March, COVID-19 hit, and everything stopped. The breakfasts were off. “Everybody was locked down,” he says. “All the restaurants were closed. There was literally no place to go. And that’s when I came upon the idea of making a coffee cup.” It wouldn’t be the same as hanging out in real life, eating real breakfast in real time, but maybe it could be the next best thing?
Phil is a classic movie buff. A former broadcaster. A veteran who worked on communications for the Army. He has two children and has met four US Presidents. Richard Nixon once gave him a tie clip. He is a man with big feelings. His friendship with Jean cannot be summed up in a single mug.
But in the midst of a global crisis, a mug would have to do. It wouldn’t be the same as hanging out in real life, eating real breakfast in real time, but it was the next best thing. On one side, he added a picture of them, sitting at their favorite table, at their favorite restaurant, eating their weekly Sunday breakfast together. On the other, he put a picture of Jean. These last several months have been lonely. He takes the health risks seriously, follows all the precautions, but still, he says, the isolation has been rough. He’s a people person, fundamentally. “My philosophy is that since I’m retired, I only have one job. And that job is to make sure that anyone who encounters me has a better day than they would have if they didn’t,” he says. The pandemic hasn’t changed that.
Connection is harder than it used to be, with everybody at a distance, but that’s where the mug comes in. “We each have the other,” he says. “And we can text each other back and forth while we’re having coffee.”