Friday, December 23, 2011

Perspective in a pause

"I'll have a double decaf tall half soy half nonfat 180 degree no foam with whip latte."  An older woman, she's all business with her order, and I read it back to her to make sure I got it all.  I slide down the counter  to the espresso machine and prepare her drink. 

"How are you today?" I ask as I'm steaming milk.

She sighs and a tense smile forms on her face.  "Oh, I'm fine.  But I had to get my nails done today.  I wish I didn't have to - it takes up so much time."  I study her face and confirm, she's seriously annoyed about this inconvenience.   

I have no response to this, so I smile and nod and focus on finishing her drink, while several thoughts cross my mind.  First, the guy at the top of the stairs hobbling pale with the paramedics into the awaiting ambulance outside our doors.  And then, the homeless man who ordered a latte earlier this morning.  He'd stood behind the counter stooped, with long stringy hair and camouflage canvas jacket with a tiny flag pinned to the collar, digging through pockets for $2.90 to purchase his drink.  I'd seen him before and he was always polite, quiet.  

"Are you a Vet?" I ventured.  

He looked up, surprised. "Yes.  I was in the Air Force."

He shuffled away several steps, then paused and turned back, catching my eye for brief moment, "Thank you."   

Was this a thank you for noticing me?  His forlornness, his gentleness, rubbed at my heart and I came close to tears.

I shake my thoughts back into this present moment, hand the woman her drink and wish her a Merry Christmas, watching her walk away.  Life truly is lived according to our perspectives.    

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