Occupation: Owner of Detour Coffee at 801 E. Broadway, inside Southland Books
Family: Married to Andrew J. Spence.
Valerie graduated from William Blount High School in 1997 and earned a degree in English from Maryville College. “Owning a coffee house is something I wanted to do for years. The opportunity presented itself, and I had to take it. What I enjoy the most is the people I get to talk to. That’s the best thing about my job. I get to spend lots of time talking to people and meeting new people. It’s very hard work and demands a lot of time. But it does have its benefits. It’s probably the coolest job I’ve ever had.”
When she’s not working or spending time with family, she enjoys roller derby and plays with the local league, the Hard Knox Roller Girls. “I saw it on TV, read about it in the paper, went to the first home game, and I knew I had to do it. I spent one season learning and watching, and I played a season and this is my second season playing.”
Here is Valerie Spence:
What was your first paying job?
“I was a student correspondent for the local paper. I believe I still have one of my paychecks. I think it was for a little over two dollars.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?
“Pack one bag, choose a random destination and take off.”
What’s your favorite television or movie quote?
“Just keep swimming” - Dory, in “Finding Nemo.”
What are you guilty of?
“Many, many things. Staying up too late. Running over curbs, abusing the snooze button on my alarm clock, taking on too much, not saying thank you enough, falling out of touch with people I care about. The list could go on and on.”
What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?
“Write a book.”
Do you think there is life on other planets?
“I can’t dismiss the possibility.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“I have a leather jacket I bought at a thrift store when I was in middle school that I hope to never have to part with. It still fits. It’s a nice fit and it has been through several adventures with me.”
What are you reading currently?
“ ‘Half-Life,’ by Shelley Jackson. I have also been trying to finish Dave Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ for over a year.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Survey says: Vivacious, which my friend Glenn says ‘is like an upper-class spunky.’ I would have guessed ‘busy.’ Right now, between running my business, and coordinating events and playing for my roller derby league, I hardly have time to keep up with my husband, much less fit in other things. I tend to immerse myself in the projects I have going, whether it’s school or work or some other undertaking. My schedule usually stays pretty full.”
When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“Famous. I think that was my pat answer when I was 5.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I’d like to be better at time-management.”
What is your passion?
“I love interacting with people. I like to share stories and work together to make things happen. My grandfather used to say that two minds create a third; I enjoy bumping brains with others to see what comes up.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My dad. He died when I was really young and never had a chance to get to know him. It would be nice to sit and talk to him.”
What do you hate?
“Hate-motivated actions and self-righteousness.”
What is your all-time favorite movie?
“I love ‘The Princess Bride’ and the original Star Wars trilogy.”
What is the best book you’ve ever read?
“It’s tough to pick just one as the best. I love books, and I love to read. The book that I’ve read the most times is ‘Gone With the Wind.’ It was the first book I read that had over a thousand pages. My school librarian let me keep the copy.”
Would you travel in space?
“I would love to travel in space if it didn’t involve flying. I get white knuckles on terrestrial planes, so I’m not sure how I’d do on a space flight. I would love to travel in a submarine, though.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“Maybe the Roaring Twenties, but I’ve never been great at history, so I’d have trouble choosing a specific time period. I like now. There is so much going on, so much to witness in the world currently, that I’m not sure what I would prefer over it.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“For my 27th birthday, my mom gave me 27 coffee cups, with a flower in each one.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Things usually look better after a good night’s sleep.”
Did you ever get paddled in school and if so, why?
“Once that I remember. I’m not sure what it was for, but I had the option of the paddling or a trip to the principal’s office. I chose the paddling. I’m pretty sure I laughed the whole time, so it must not have been terribly painful.”
Who is your hero?
“I am inspired by people who do the right thing, not because they’re hoping for recognition, but because it needs doing.”
What was your first car?
“It was a Volkswagen Fox station wagon. Before we parted ways, it had caught on fire more than once, and all of the door handles were broken, so I had to crawl through the rear hatch to get in if I forgot to leave the windows down. I loved that car. It was, at different times, a storage locker, a traveling home and my own personal independence-mobile.”
What’s your favorite all time song?
“My theme-song is ‘Tom’s Diner,’ by Suzanne Vega.