Take one look at Paul O'Keeffe, who works in our Midleton café, and you can tell he is an active man. He runs, swims and walks. He's no stranger to the gym, either. All that in addition to the many hours on his feet serving customers. A Fitbit would struggle to keep up. How does he do it? Well, part of the story is that he loves his job, the people especially.
"It's a great place to be. The regular customers and a great team," he says. There is a sparkle in his eyes that tells you he is truly at home in the café.
His active lifestyle doesn't mean he can't be tempted by a good slice of cake. His favourite in the café display is the chocolate tart. He has one word for it. "Tasty." A single word, but combine it with the huge smile on his face when he says it and you know all you need to know. We don't make anything better in his opinion. Add an extra-shot latte and you have one very happy man.
If you want to make him unhappy, however, all you need to do is show him a dirty table. To hear him talk about seeing a customer sit down at a table when it isn't immaculate is to hear a man who takes huge pride in his work. In a café as busy as ours, it is almost inevitable that it will happen now and then that a table hasn't been cleared yet when someone sits down at it. For Paul, each instance, however rare, seems to hurt him personally. "That annoys me," he says, almost angry at the thought alone.
Perhaps it's his background in the aviation sector in ground operations and flight dispatch at Cork airport. There is zero room for messy work in aviation. He carries the mantra with him in his work today. We're privileged that he does.