I was recently told I write in plurals a lot–using words such as– we/us instead of I/me. I was also told I generalize perhaps a bit too much–generally, usually, occasionally–things of that sort pop up in these paragraphs instead of solid fact, or opinion. Thus, in an attempt to go beyond the walls of “usually” and narrow down these thoughts to purely my own, I give you, dear friends, a journal excerpt from an analytical barista.
I didn’t want to go to work today. Customers who come through the drive through on their cell phones bug me. When I say, “Hi, how’s it going?” And in response I get, “I need a 4 shot latte, skinny, no foam, extra hot.” It drags me down a bit, why can’t they just say, “Hi,” and acknowledge my humanity? When other co-workers make a mess and don’t clean it up I make smart remarks in my head. A customer is rude and it’s hard to be pleasant. Is it too much for you to slow down your drink order for 5 seconds–really–even just one second, and just say “Hi” back to me?
I know people look at me while their in their suit and tie and waiting for me to get them a mocha on their lunch break and they think, “This is all you’re doing with your life?” Maybe they don’t think that, but sometimes it feels like it. To be fair and honest, I look at myself and think the same thing. I graduated from college, got married, and now I work in a coffee shop and blog bi-weekly (if I’m lucky)–but no one really reads this, so for whom and to what end am I writing? Does my existence now as a barista hold any significant meaning?
So, I go to work, make drinks, serve customers, and do my absolute best to move past the small talk and have real conversations. Turns out, one of those men in his suit and tie designed a bacterium to clean waste water at ethanol plants so they can re-use water and waste less. One of those women occasionally on her cell phone has an incredible family that she takes care of and she exudes gentleness whenever I see her with her kids. A customer who is short and rude with me sits in the cafe–job hunting because he was laid off. By the time he leaves, I now know one of his biggest dreams for his kids. Two women come in almost every week to write and be free to think and create and imagine. I love when they come in, it puts me in a creative mood. And then, there’s one of my favorites. She comes in almost everyday–and I am always learning something new about her, or from her. I want to ask her “on a coffee date” but I’m afraid at how cliché that would sound.
I begin to piece people together in this community and I’m realizing over and over that people are complex, thoughtful, generous, and fascinating. I’m afraid that I don’t belong on the same level as some fo them and I’m equally afraid that some of them think the same about me.
The human experience is strange to me–in what ways we find comfort, how we make decisions, what our minds may be open to learning, what and who and how we love–and yes–as I watch people order their lattes and coffee I can observe these things. I dont’ know if we make our own destiny, ir it’s laid out for us–or if one even exists in the way we hope and dream it can.
But I see so many people every day that I begin to crave my quiet. I talk about the weather way more than I can stand–I’m inside all day–I don’t really know what the weather is doing.
Genius passes by me everyday and the only thing I can do is quench its thirst.
Anxiousness approaches me and all I can do is help it make one decision-latte or mocha.
Loneliness hides in the corner of the cafe, so I bring her coffee to her table, and offer my presence.
Stupidity parades through and makes a mockery of my job. So I do my best to laugh along and help it keep walking.
Ignorance growls at me–so all I can do is offer something new.
I am only one person. Helping one person at a time to pick out a drink. Every so often, I get selfish and wish someone would offer to sit down and have coffee with me. But maybe, they are wishing the same thing–and that’s why they come to the coffee shop.
Grand that I may not so much seek:
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.