Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dialing in the dark

A man walks up to the kiosk counter, rolls the strap of his bulky duffle bag off his shoulder, and says in the voice of a tired traveler, "I'd like a grande dark roast, please."  

It's four minutes before we're open and I'm scrambling to finish the final tasks.  I glance up quickly, "It's just about ready." 

"I can wait," he says, rummaging through his change. "I'm in no hurry."   

I pump French Roast coffee into a paper cup, hand it him, ask as sincerely as I can muster at 5:58 am, "How are you this morning?"  He's looking down, still counting change.  

"Oh, I'm... tired," he says honestly, without complaint.  "I slept outside last night." His words snap me to attention, snap me awake to someone beyond this skin of mine.  A smile creeps across his face, "But I have enough money for coffee this morning, and I'm really excited about that."  

I struggle for words beyond, "That's wonderful," and it is.  Beaming back, I'm infected by his simple confession of gratitude and watch him carry his treasured coffee to the bar.  I fill up with thanks for this man, for the lesson he taught me, unaware of the impact of his words.  Daylight is still more than an hour away and my dial is set to gratitude, thanks to an honest stranger.  

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