My car groans as I turn into an empty and winding drive-through around 8:30 on a Wednesday night. An amiable, male voice filters through the speaker.
“Welcome to Starbucks. How may I help you?”
“Can I have one Sausage Breakfast Sandwich, please?”
“Let me check if we have any left.”
I wait some seconds, considering my coffee order. The speaker clicks.
“Do you want one or do you want nine? We have nine sandwiches left. You can have them all.”
His playful question with a serious tone made me laugh with my dorkiest of laughs. Mouth open, teeth showing, nose scrunched kind of dorkiness. A regularly programmed thought snapped to attention: He is funny slash nice. I wonder what he looks like. I hope he heard a smile as I lean towards the speaker.
“I’ll just take the one. Can I also get a Decaf Chai Tea Latte?”
Without pausing or annoyance—more with compassion—he responds, “Well… We can’t make the Chai decaf because it’s Tea, but we could do a Decaf Vanilla Latte if –“
“Oh, I’m an idiot.”
“You are NOT an idiot!” Genuine outrage comes from a new, female voice that must be as bored as her co-worker.
My guy chimes in, “Yeah! Don’t talk about yourself like that.”
I’m laughing again. What a refreshing drive through experience! Starbucks baristas have turned into my personal support group. They are right. If you’re that hard on yourself over a routine Starbucks order, how harsh are you when making bigger decisions that will impact your family or your happiness?
I decide to only get the sandwich and they prompt me to pull up to the window.
Lapsing social etiquette, I eagerly blurt out, “Can’t wait to see you guys!”
Inside Starbucks, my new friend is swinging his arms. Based on the movement of his upper body, I assume that he is sliding his feet dramatically to the left and then to the right. He is dancing his way to the pick-up window! I am equally entertained by the show, as I am disappointed in his appearance. He tugs at his red beard and casually says “hey” while reaching for my debit card.
Looking at him, I sense the silliness is actually insecurity. His comedy covers some deeply buried emotions or experiences. He says a few other things to me. The momentum of our interaction dwindles and we silently acknowledge our violation of the hello-whatwouldyoulike-thankyou protocol of a typical cashier to customer relationship. I never catch sight of the girl.
I roll up my window and let the breakfast sandwich warm my lap. Reflecting on those amusing minutes in the drive-through, I am grateful for choosing Starbucks over a Culver’s SnackPak or Panera bread bowl.