Dave Coffee

Dave Coffee is a character. Tall but hunching, old enough to be balding, he works as a doctor now. When he’s listening, he listens, jamming his hand into the waistband of his pants. He stands when he tells stories, though, acting them out as he goes.

During medical school, he joined the military to help pay his way. Sometimes, he practiced medicine in the military. Other times, it seems, he just worked with helicopters.

On one occasion, they were supposed to be directing flight traffic into the proper parking positions. I can imagine most of the guys waving those orange flashlight wands, trying to be all serious, parking the aircrafts.

And then there was Dave. He started out the normal way but somewhere along the line slipped into the dance for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” right out there on the tarmac.

On another occasion, he was supposed to teach some new recruits all about working with the helicopters. To begin, Dave decided to teach them how to “jump start” the engine.

He asked them if they’d ever seen any old films where someone has to spin the propeller to start the engine. Most of them had. Dave explained that jump starting a helicopter is similar.

With that, he grabbed a long pole with a hook on the end, latched it onto the tip of one of the blades of the helicopter propeller, and proceeded to run around in a circle, supposedly trying to jump start the helicopter.

He has video of that lesson, he said. To train entire groups at once, he said. (And yes, he ran around holding an imaginary hooked pole when he told me this story.)

After his fun in the military, he got out and became a family doctor. He liked the adventure of the military, though, so he tried to keep some of that by getting into scuba diving. He actually met his wife scuba diving.

At the end of one of their early diving dates, Dave got an idea when he noticed large tubs of water for divers to rinse the saltwater off their gear. Instead of taking off his gear to rinse it like a normal diver, he just hopped into one of the tubs and began rolling around in it.

He and his wife must have a good marriage. She stuck with him past that rinsing scene.

I don’t see Dave much anymore, just now and then when I help my brother with his lawn business and Dave happens to come out. Dave says my brother is the best worker who’s ever worked for him. That makes me happy, happy for my brother but also happy that Dave’s the kind of person who would say that.

When I first met Dave, sunglasses hanging signature-style from the back of his collar, I saw the tall but hunching, old enough to be balding doctor. Now, I see the character.