Friday, March 07, 2014

A Barista Gets To Hear Peoples' Stories

One blessing of being a barista is the relationships you develop.  A barista gets to hear peoples’ stories though usually in thirty second snippets.  Tom shows up for coffee every morning.  Straight up when we open he orders a large black decaf.  Then we spend two to three minutes talking.  We’ve talked about everything from Putin to sciatica.  This morning he shared about his mother’s last years and how he fed her through a tube.  He shared that his mother never complained about her plight but was always more interested in what was going on with him.  Just as I was going to ask another question the next customer got in line.

The money-spenders are a number of individuals that have the same trait.  They’ve made a lot of money-or like to have people believe they have.  They are always telling me how they are spending it, “We’re going to Australia and New Zealand next week on a cruise.  I’m meeting with some guys to discuss the new development we’re building.  I gave the toast at a big Italian dinner in New York.  We are remodeling the house and putting in solar.  If you go to Temecula you’ve got to visit my friends’ winery.”  I’d Google these guys but people don’t give you their last names when ordering their “half-caf one scoop of vanilla.”

Often the stories are poignant.  An older wonderful woman customer’s body shakes and twitches twisting her head in a pronounced movement.  It doesn’t seem to bother her.  It must take some courage and back-bone to spend one’s days fighting that kind of battle.  James has only a hole where his ear used to be.  He had some form of cancer so they cut off his ear and side of his face.  He orders his large Iced Latte and tells me that the whole milk is one of many things that he hopes will help him get his weight back.  He shares about the chemo and being forced to take daily trips down to Loma Linda hospital---more than an hour away.

Working with the public has its difficulties.  There are days I think I would like to just sit at a desk and write.  But I’d miss the stories; the ones that I know and the ones that I wonder about.

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