I’m blessed to be able to travel to Ohio a couple of times a year for training at Ohio State University for my job as a literacy coach. I travel alone and to be honest, I love spending time with myself alone. The traveling is a bonus.
The mornings in Ohio are glorious. Temperatures about 30 degrees warmer than MInnesota, the sun rises and warms the sky to wrap around you and just fill you with bliss. My rental car, a spiffy little Chevy Cruz (a change from my big Trailblazer) hugs the curves of the road as I drive about 15 miles to my destination. The radio stays set at 104.9, The River, a Christian radio station that touches my soul each morning. Yum. Life is good.
Each morning in Columbus, on my way to training, I swing by a Caribou Coffee shop for a large dark decaf, two shots of hazelnut syrup and steamed, whipped skim milk. ( M-m-m-m, just writing that makes me miss Ohio) The drive through line always long, so I end up parking my car and walking inside to order.
One particular day, after placing my order and paying, I slide along the counter to wait at the end for my drink to be ready for pick up. The gal who takes the order is never the maker of the order. She gives the order to this big, burly, 20 something year old guy who does all the coffee fixings. I’m watching him and waiting, hoping he gets it right.
He hands me my cup and states, “Here’s your coffee.”
“Yay!” I’m rejoicing. Happy day! Life can begin now!
Then. . . I think, and I ask, “Is it decaf?” just to be sure. I’ve been handed a regular coffee before, after a decaf request, and my body and mind do not sit well downing all that unintentional caffeine, so I NEED to double check. Always.
“What?” he asks, looking at me confused.
“Is it decaf?” I ask again, a little clearer and a little louder. Maybe he has a hearing problem, I don’t know.
He looks at me strange, then glances over at the gal who took the order and she says to him, “Yes, it’s decaf.”
He then, reports to me, “Yes, it’s decaf.”
“Thank you!” I tell him and I smile, taking my coffee and heading towards to door, all happy and warm inside. Life is wonderful!
How could a morning be any better than this? A perfect coffee, amazing weather, and an opportunity for me to engage in trainings that expand my mind and connect with other literacy coaches? Honestly, I am so lucky!
Upon approaching the door, I then, hear the burly man say to the ordering gal, “Is this decaf???” in this loud, mimicing, obnoxious voice.
I stop dead in my tracks. Jolted, I look over at him and he’s chuckling to her. She looks at me with a “I don’t know him,” look.
What? I caught that.
Seriously? In shock, I have trouble making my feet go forward.
My mind is asking, “Did that just happen?”
I am shaken.
As I walk to my car, stunned over this episode of pure disrespect for another’s well being, I almost forget where I am, what time it is and what I am doing there. I manage to get inside the car and just sit there for a moment. I take some deep breaths.
And then, I cry.
For Pete’s Sake.
“Really, Shar? You are going to let some idiot allow to enter your state of mind and wreck the flow of glorious love you are feeling? What’s wrong with you? He is not worth your energy or thoughts! Shake this off! Get a grip!”
I’m angry at myself for letting others affect me in this way. I thought I had moved beyond this. I’m an adult. I can take a little criticism. But, it’s the years of teasing in my elementary and early high school years that come flooding back. Once a target for teasing, if that thorn is not yanked out, a little brushing up against it causes all the pain to come rushing back. The pain is raw.
Or, (my mind running rampant now) is it that fact that I’m not some cute little young thing? I’m a middle aged, late 40ish, woman, who means nothing to this younger generation. Ignored, unnoticed and unappreciated. I’ll bet he would not mimic a cute 20 year old, like my daughters Gracie or Lauren.
I hate how the mind works in these situations.
I then realize that I have to write this down. These disturbances within us are cause for a deeper exploration. I don’t want to lose it, as uncomfortable as it is, I need to get to the root of why this stranger’s remarks can hurt me in such a way.
I drive to my training site and sit down next to a friend. She asks how I am. My story creeps out of me. She looks at me with feelings of empathy and pain and tries to lift my spirits as women friends do. “What an jerk,” she reassures me. Then she asks, “Did you say something to him? You should have, you know.”
Ughhh. I know. Now I’m even more perturbed with myself because I could not be calm enough to take a stand and say something in defense of myself. What’s wrong with me? I’m a mature, strong person? Dang. Double Dang. I missed a major opportunity to practice standing up for myself. I’m so weak, I tell myself.
And then, this amazing thing happens.
Our topic of study in training that day? Persuasive writing. We dig into our memories of unjust acts towards us, how we might make the world a better place for all and putting our words on paper for the appropriate audience to make changes where change is due.
Boy, did I have stuff to write.
The Caribou Coffee shop manager was going to receive a letter from me explaining my experience. I voiced how I did not want this nimbusul fired, but that I just wanted to make sure that they trained all their employees to treat their customers with the utmost dignity and respect. For heaven’s sakes, the coffee shop people are often the first humans others speak to in the morning. Their energy emits a tone for the entire day! It should be their JOB to spread light to all they come into contact with!
Synchronicity again. The occasion happened to ready me for several opportunities, not just persuasive writing. But, to examine what is deep inside of me that needs to be healed, and to awaken me to the fact that I need to work on wordage to stand up for myself and for others when unkind acts take place (without being a bitch ~ there is a line, you know. However, Madonna says you have to be a bitch to get things done).
All I know is, I refuse to be a wimp anymore. I will build my character. Grow. Teach others what it means to be kind and have compassion.
Maybe those idiots just don’t know. . .
Maybe their lives are far worse off than our own.
Sadly, because of their ignorance, I now, will get my coffee from Starbucks.