I always feel I have to have a good reason being at Starbucks. Indie-Locavore guilt. This time it was because I was buying a gift card for my nephew who lives far away. I get him a Starbucks gift card so he can have a treat on me, and there’s always a Starbucks somewhere. Since I was was there anyway, I ordered a chai latte.
(I sat for a little while reading the book Delicious! I read the bulk of it while in the waiting room of my car dealership earlier this week. Freakin’ three hours for some basic service! I don’t have a smart phone or laptop, so no interwebs or writing work. Not that I’m really complaining. Spending hours reading a good book is a luxury. They had a coffee machine but no tea, luckily it did dispense hot water. As I always carry tea with me, I was all set! And then I read a bit at Starbucks today.)
I was waited on by a pleasant, but nervous looking woman of middle age. She was being trained by another staffer. Within a few minutes of me sitting down with my book and chai, the woman who served me sat at a table nearby with a little sandwich and coffee, on break. She looked so sad and overwhelmed, continually putting her head into her hands for a few moments in between bites and sips. I wanted to give her a hug, but society says “no!”
I got up to use the restroom and on the way back tried to catch her eye and smile, but she was rubbing her forehead, and that’s a pretty big signal not to disturb so I just took my seat and felt bad. I’ve had these situations before where I want to say something comforting, but I’m not sure how to broach the person in a casual way. But afterwards, I always feel regret that I didn’t try harder to reach out to someone obviously in distress. What to do?
(Delicious! is a fine read, but really bad when you don’t have good food on hand. It’s a book with sumptuous descriptions of decadent meals. At the car dealership, I only had an apple and granola bar. Adequate for a snack, but pathetic while reading about the BEST EVER gingerbread, or the FRESHEST mozzarella, or meat so tender it falls off the bone with a GORGEOUS sauce that makes your mouth…yeah, yeah, yeah. At least the tea I brought was tasty. And at Starbucks, my chai latte was frothy and sweet.)
I noticed the Starbucks lady crumbling up her sandwich wrapper, so I looked up hoping to catch her eye. She actually looked my way! I smiled and said quickly, “First day?” She nodded, and plopped herself down next to me with a weary sigh. For the next ten minutes she told me about being a single mom with six kids working out of her home for years, doing her best, but now that her youngest was in high school she was ready for something different, and why not a cafe? I commiserated about figuring out what to do when full-time mom was no longer needed, reinventing yourself as an working older woman, etc. She got up, and we wished each other a nice day. She turned back once with a smile, “If you’re not sure what to do, you could work here too.”
I picked up my son from his class, we went home, and I made us some comforting tea with a delicious lunch.
Move with intention.