I write a lot of goofy nonsense, I know. But I’ve been itching to write a story that, regardless of humorous content, has a serious message. I want to preface the story, though, with another story. A true story.
I used to work at Starbucks. It was kinda my first job. Technically my first job was at a Starbucks inside a Target, and the Starbucks where the following took place was a different store, but whatever. I was young. Just 18. I was dealing with a lot of stuff in my non-work life. And, y’know, even for a kid whose outside life is perfect, retail food is hard. I once got shouted at for making a hot chocolate that was, er… hot. People are interesting. They’re often finicky and cruel, and so many times they treat you so inhumanely that you wonder what it means to be human in itself.
Then, if you’re damn lucky, someone will remind you. For me, that person was Sheila.
I don’t know her last name. I don’t know where she lives, or her phone number, or anything. Hell, do I know if she’s still alive? No. Because to me, she was just a regular customer at my Starbucks. But she was also Sheila.
Sheila would come in and tell us stories as she waited for her coffee. She told us how she picked up hitchhikers and how she left her front door open on Thanksgiving, letting in anyone who wanted a free meal and free conversation. She was constantly inspiring us with tales of kindness that most people deem “going too far.”
Sheila was not one for this rhetoric that your generosity should only extend as far as your own neck. I remember her telling us, in some number of words, that if she went out doing nice things, then that was just okay.
I admire the heck out of that. I know it’s scary to risk yourself for somebody else. I know people will disparage you for supposed foolishness. But when I think about her, I don’t think about someone who needs to learn to take more than she gives.
I think about that time, on a hectic Black Friday, where she brought us Thanksgiving Turkey. For the record, yes, it was delicious. But it was also the single most thoughtful, touching thing that anyone has ever done to me, for me, while I was at work. I have to fight back tears of appreciation every time I remember it. Quite frankly, she’s what reminds me what it means to be truly human and have humanity.
Between the time that I put in my two weeks notice and the last time I walked out those Starbucks doors, I didn’t see her again. I wish I could have given her the heartfelt goodbye that she deserved. Alas, that’s life. A glorious human being touches your heart for a flitter of a moment, and then they’re gone. At least in physicality. Never in your mind.
So this story is for her. It’s also for you, dear reader, to remember the good in the world, and to remember that you can be that good.