10: Don’t Take Away My Coffee

10: Don’t Take Away My Coffee

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

Don’t Take Away My Coffee

Starbucks represents something beyond a cup of coffee.
~Howard Schultz

They’re threatening to close my favorite coffee shop. The economy is weakening, and people are losing their jobs. But they can’t close my coffee shop. I listen to the national and local news channels. I understand budgets, dollars and severance pay. Every morning when I get ready for work, I pray that the next morning I’ll still have a job. I want to get ready for work every Monday through Friday.

But they can’t close my coffee shop.

Eight years ago, I sat in front of a judge and listened to her end my marriage. It wasn’t what I had envisioned when I walked down the aisle in my white dress. But it happened, and as a middle-of-the-demographics woman, I was suddenly thrust back into the marketplace. I worked three jobs, saved every possible penny and finished raising my son.

One of the things that kept me going was my goal to someday be able to afford a drink at the coffee shop. I watched other people going in those hallowed doors and coming out with smiles on their faces. They seemed to have no problems, no financial concerns. Surely none of them worked three jobs like me and saved every scrap of food for leftovers. They carried Styrofoam cups filled with mocha, caramel or some other type of sugary foam. Some lucky guys and gals carried metal cups with the coffee shop brand on them. How I wanted one of those cups! How I longed to be part of the gang!

As the calendar months in my planner flipped over, I continued to work various jobs. Two years passed, and life was still in the survival mode. Then one day, a co-worker noticed that my birthday was coming. “What do you want?” he asked.

It was too easy. “My love language is coffee.”

On my birthday, I opened his card and saw the answer to my dream—a gift card with the coffee shop logo. You would think that I might have scurried out of the office during my lunch hour to gobble that coveted drink. But I had waited too long for this goal to hurry happiness.

I planned the right moment: a Saturday morning when I didn’t have to work. My son was at band practice. I was alone and geared for joy. After fixing my hair and putting on my best make-up, I drove carefully across town. Slowly, savoring each ray of happiness—I parked and walked toward the door with the coffee logo on the front.

Once inside, my senses exploded into overload. Brownies beckoned from glass cases. Those coveted metal cups gleamed from a corner shelf. And the menu—rows and rows of delightful possibilities. I would choose wisely, and make my gift card last.

“I’ll have a small chocolate something,” I told the young man behind the counter.

“A tall mocha?” he asked.

Did I sound like a rookie at this game? Probably. No doubt this polite young man was laughing inside. I didn’t care.

“Yes, that’s right,” I said, squaring my shoulders like a sudden expert. “A tall mocha.”

My treasure and I sat on a tweed sofa while I slowly sipped. Nothing I had tasted previously in my entire fifty-plus years gave me such pleasure. I pulled a novel from my purse and read about a faraway place, imagining myself there, with another tall mocha—or maybe the largest size, whatever that was called. I pretended I had all the time in the world and was as rich as all the people who kept opening that door and ordering their favorite drinks.

During the next few months, I carved out special outings at my coffee shop. Each time, I tried a different drink. By the time I had used up my gift card, I had a relationship with chai latte, hazelnut and a delightful pumpkin spice. But that first mocha still remained the favorite.

Now that my son is raised and I’m working only two jobs, I visit my coffee shop more often. I still ask for those gift cards on my birthday or at Christmas. Last year I saved enough coins to buy myself one of those treasured cups. It sits on my desk at work, but I don’t always drink from it. Sometimes I just stare at it and say a prayer of thanks that I’m finally out of the hole.

You see, they can’t close my coffee shop. We all need a place to find hope.

~Rebecca Jay

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