Regulars at the 49th Parallel Coffee Shop in Ladysmith go there, not only for a great latté (my preferred kick start), and for a little anonymous company, and for a relaxing atmosphere – they go there because Manager Colin Pickell will usually be behind the counter to greet them with a smile.
To dozens of customers Pickell is a friend, one who has been there since the 49th Parallel Coffee Shop opened its doors almost six years ago.
Brief interactions are part of the routine at the 49th, but Colin makes the most of those often hurried exchanges. “If there’s something I can do to send you on your way in a good way, that’s just part of the job and part of who I am,” he said in a farewell interview.
He, his wife Sholen, and their sons Zephyr, 9, and Hugo, 7, are embarking on a new adventure. Colin has been hired by the B.C. Sheriff’s service, and will be moving to New Westminster for five months of training next week; Sholen and the children will join him in Oliver come the fall, in time for the kids to start school.
From its inception, Pickell has been a big part of the 49th Parallel Coffee shop’s character. For him, it’s been a surprisingly emotional few weeks saying goodbye to the customers who have become friends, and who want to know why Pickell is leaving and where he’s going.
“I’m losing my voice because of the amount of talking I’m doing,” he said. “You don’t realize when you leave a place how many people you know, how many people you see every day.”
He’s getting to know in his last days on the job. “I knew I knew a lot of people through this job, but I had no idea I’d grown so close to so many,” Pickell said. “Saying goodbye to them, it’s been an emotional week.”