Saturday, November 7, 2009

Starbucks Dude

Every Sunday, regardless of the time, we stop at Starbucks on the way to church. Paul always tells me that it’s tacky to bring coffee cups into church. I reply that any church that doesn’t recognize my other house of worship—Our Lady of Perpetual Caffeine- is off the list.

He’s learned a long time ago that there’s no point in arguing with this kind of logic.

Often, we see a homeless man perched on his walker, right outside the door. Sometimes I ignore him, for no other reason than the incredible tip of my own nose (it’s awfully hard to look past). Occasionally, though, I’ll ask him if he wants a cup of coffee.

He’s yet to turn me down.

The first time I asked him, he replied, “Thank you dear. I would like a tall Pike’s Place with cream and one of those sugar packets. The brown ones. Not the pink ones.”

I blinked, once, than twice. I don’t know why I thought I was the first person original enough to ask this man if he wanted coffee, when he had perched himself directly in front of Starbucks. Nevertheless, his specific order and fussiness took me by surprise.

“You should be glad you’re getting anything, buddy,” I thought to myself. I smiled and repeated his order, “Tall Pike’s Place with cream and sugar. Got it!”

“The brown packet!” I heard him call behind me as I walked through the doors. As I waited in line, I passive-aggressively considered giving him a black coffee, with no accoutrements. That would show him, I thought to myself, my shoulders hunched up like Richard Nixon.

Yes, I really thought I would stick it to the homeless man with the walker. That’s how kind I can be. In my mind, I guess, I was  thinking, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” If he wanted his own specific coffee so badly, perhaps the first step would be, um, paying for it himself.

I made these determinations without knowing his ailments, his background, or the long and twisted path that led him to the Starbucks in Prince Frederick. Or, as I’ve seen him on other days, the median on Route 231 or lurching along Route 4, near the Wal-Mart.

I don’t know who picked him up when he had nightmares, or who bandaged his skinned knees. I don’t know if he’s an only child, the oldest, the youngest, a twin. I don’t know what brought him to this point, who he voted for president, or the name of his first love.

I know only two things about him. He, like me, is a human, raised by other humans. And he, like me, appreciates a good cup of coffee.

Part of recognizing the dignity of my fellow man, I suppose, is honoring his drink requests. If I’m going to offer him a drink (he wasn’t asking, he was just sitting there,) then I need to cut off all my invisible, snobbish strings.

I need to let go of my false sense of superiority and instead drink an extra-tall, no-whip glass of humility. With an extra shot of mercy.


The Redhead Riter said...

Humility...hmmm...that is a hard one for many to swallow.

♥ Have a happy weekend.

Stephanie said...

Yes, that IS a hard one for many people to swallow. :-)

Corrie Howe said...

I know you are are talking about. I asked the local sheriff about him once. I'll have to share what I learned. Although it doesn't really matter based upon your points.