This past Thursday, I was the banner carrier for my branch of local colleges at their graduation ceremony. Along with four other people who weren’t graduating this year, we represented our respective schools while our peers graduated. I had to be at the auditorium at 10am to “rehearse”, and was stuck there for two hours. After that whole ordeal, I went to lunch with my CAB adviser and two guys who are very chatty about college plans. While I love talking to people, the best part of my day were the next two hours.
My dad works right down the street from where I had lunch, so instead of my mom having to drive up again to get me, he picked me up and I went back to his office. We hung out for a little while, but since he had a meeting, I ended up walking over to the shopping center across the street. It’s super cool how you can get there; the city has a bunch of “links” between buildings so that you can walk from place to place above the traffic. I wandered around the different levels for the next few hours, visiting a few of my favorites: the Crayola Store, the fudge factory and a really neat boutique that has a lot of artsy clothing. My final stop was on the third floor, which had a really cool coffee bar.
After looking over the menu, I went up to order. Apparently, the espresso machine wasn’t working, because my first two orders were not availble. The girl who was taking my order looked like I was going to yell at her or something, but I got a regular cup of coffee and all was good. I parked myself at the bar and started sketching. I like my coffee super blonde, so I asked for an extra cup of cream. Not really paying attention, I didn’t realize that my phone was in the way of the girl putting the cup of cream on my side of the counter. Neither one of us was able to see it until it was too late; the little cup spilled all over my place mat, phone cased and sketch book. At this point, the barista looked like she was going to cry. She was apologizing profusely, trying to wipe up as much as she could. Now, some people might have freaked out at her, especially with a soaked sketchbook, but it was easy to clean, and wasn’t worth yelling at another human about.
After the spill, I ended up chatting with the bar tender. She opened up and was really friendly. We talked about school and art and coffee, and she was a lot more relaxed. When I left, I wondered how often this woman had to deal with rude customers. I know from personal experience that the food service industry is not the most fun job. Whenever you are short with a stranger, it could effect them for the rest of their day. Sometimes we forget that other people have the same feelings that we do; they have good days and bad days. I’m sure you’ve had a day where someone ruined it by a mean comment. You don’t know how other people’s lives are going. A cashier might be going slow because they are experiencing a lot of physical pain. A waiter might be forgetful because they have a lot going on in their mind. There are many times in life where you have the choice to give people grace or tear them down.
My encounter with the coffee lady was a short part of my day, but days after it I’m still thinking about it. I hope that next time you deal with a difficult situation with a stranger that you’ll realize that you aren’t the only one who has bad days. Maybe they’re having a rough time, and you can be the person to brighten it.
Until next time,