Friday, November 03, 2006

Stop and Smell The Coffee

Starbucks is my third place. It is my home away from home away from work. Even though their marketing campaign offers no white ribbons to us third place winners, we find great comfort in their purple chairs, smiling faces, and dialing doses of caffeine.

Around this time of year, my order consists of Wild Sweet Orange teas, hazelnut lattes, or the house blend. As Christmas approaches, the calendar pulls me closer and closer to the Anniversary Blend and a gingerbread latte. Starbucks has been my safe haven while living in so many different places. Now, in Conyers, I go there to see friends, work quietly, or just sip a cup of great coffee.

If you find yourself at Starbucks on 138, make sure you say hello to my friend, Russell. He absolutely loves his job, and he is one of the few people I know who really loves to go to work. The updates of what happens at Starbucks over the course of a day are no less than inspiring. Sometimes I dream that all of my life was as tranquil as my moments in the coffee shop.

On Tuesday, Russell was working drive-through early in the morning. After arriving at Starbucks at 5 a.m., he proceeded to fill the orders of friends starting their day. One patron commented that he knew the woman in the car behind him, so he offered to pay for her coffee along with his own. His act of kindness inspired her to pay for the car behind her. Russell told me that this chain of generosity continued for over twenty more cars.

Each driver seemed touched by the decision of the stranger heading off to work one car ahead, and he or she felt compelled to mimic that same kindness. Starbucks, this week, pulled over twenty residents of Conyers out of their normal routines as they prepared for long commutes and an even longer day. That morning, the giving away became the norm.

When Russell shared his experience with me, I was moved. However, part of me could not help but ask how the chain was broken. Who finally decided not to return the favor? The last recipient still does not know that cup of coffee already was paid for by the car in front. She was on her cell phone and missed the chance to talk to Russell. He would have smiled, sincerely asked her how she was doing, and then he would have told her the story. His face would have illustrated just how special that morning had been for him. Instead, she continued to talk, paid the amount she knew by heart, grabbed her cup, and headed off to work. She failed to put that conversation in her pocket to conduct commerce with one of the best people I know.

How many blessings do we miss because we are too distracted by our day? Today, I walked into a high school filled with young lives on the brink of great change. This afternoon, I will grab a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop that invites me to join the circle of friends gathered around the tables.

Stop today and see all that is happening around you. Maybe one of you will even bless the stranger behind you with a simple act of kindness. Your story may never be told, but someone out there will not forget it. Thank you, Conyers, for making Russell’s day. Thank you, Russell, for telling your story. Let us join in on the generosity that changes people.


Blogger Misty said...

I just wanted you to know I enjoy your posts so much. You need to blog a bit more often;)

2:42 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

i actually write a column for the religion section of a local newspaper. most of my blogposts are my articles for the week. :) i wish i were a more faithful blogger. . . .

3:47 PM  
Blogger Jemila Monroe said...

Carolyn, thank you. This is beautiful. So simple and truthful.

6:43 AM  

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