I had a coupon for a free drink, expiration date: October 4, 2015. Allowing it to go to waste simply wasn’t an option, so, though it was potluck Sunday and I was more than satiated with good food and drink, we swung through the Starbucks drive-through on the way home from church.
The tinny sound of the intercom was not enough to hide the bright cheerfulness of the voice that floated through it to my ears:
“Welcome to Starbucks! What can I get for you on this beautiful fall day?”
I smiled at the friendliness, the happiness, a welcome change from the drab interactions that tend to be the norm in such situations, and placed my order. Later, at the window, I met the owner of that voice as she took my coupon and handed me my coffee.
There was no hint of insincerity about her as she grinned at me, as she congratulated me on my free drink. “Awesome! Enjoy your freebie!” In the few moments that I waited at the window, I watched her take orders, interact with her coworkers, and fill cups, her coppery ponytail bouncing behind her as she moved from task to task, her vitality and joy infectious.
She works at a job that is often thankless, dealing with the public as it does, one that is likely repetitive and menial, one that is not always fun. And yet her attitude reflected none of that. She smiled with genuine goodwill and happiness. She was delighted for my good fortune in getting a free drink. She did her job well, with kindness and joy, and in so doing, brought a smile to my face. She found contentment and happiness in handing a stranger a cup of coffee. Our interaction, brief though it was, stuck with me. It made my day better.
In recent months, being a stay-at-home mom has caused me to question my vocation, my purpose, my identity more than I have at any other point in my life. I’ve wrestled with what I want to do, with who I want to be. Wife. Mom. Believer. Writer. Engineer. I’ve mulled titles in my mind, asking myself the same questions time and time again. What am I to do with this life, with this time, with these talents? Am I supposed to do “more” than mothering, than keeping a home?
But I wonder if, in some ways, I’m asking the wrong questions, for as I left that Starbucks parking lot, the barista’s smile still clear in my mind, I thought to myself: “That. That is who I want to be.”