Stumble. Stumble. Trip. I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Too much coffee. Let’s start again at the entrance to the coffee shop.
I pulled open the door and the unique scent of books mixed with coffee filled my nose. I love the smell of bookstores. I once read that it is the hint of vanilla that makes it so appealing. The vanilla scent is caused from the lignin found in wood-based paper. Lignin is closely related to vanillin. Who knew? Honestly, I’m not sold on the vanilla thing but I do know there is something about ink and paper that bring me comfort. Or maybe it is the aroma of possibilities found between the bindings. Mmmmmm. Whatever the case, the combination of that magic with the earthy smokiness of coffee just makes me want to inhale – forever. Never exhaling again.
Once I get past my olfaction sensory high I allow my vision to take over. I scan the area to find a place along the bar window where I can wedge myself between the other laptop soldiers. Nothing. Dang it. There are a few tables and one is available but it is low to the ground, right in the middle of the traffic pattern. I’m about to throw my backpack there begrudgingly when I spot a tall man with cool wooden glasses start packing up, slowly pushing back from the bar. I attempt to nonchalantly saunter over preparing to slide my pack into his space. We make eye contact in that polite yes, I’m leaving, oh thank you please save me that seat, kind of way. Score. The people watching is stellar from the window. I hang my backpack off the back of the chair.
Back in line and my audio turns on. I hear the whirl of the coffee grinder, and right behind it I get the base of the song playing on the radio. As the grinder whines down, the radio comes into focus and I hear Aretha Franklin singing me some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. And then she fades into the back as the grinder comes alive again. They continue this dance, Aretha and Grinder and it makes me smile. Aretha is demanding respect and seems to be singing louder to get it. There is a screech behind me. I turn and hear the strained voice of a woman dressed for yoga class pleading through clenched teeth for a young boy to keep his bright blue hat and mixed mittens on. One was yellow and the other red. I’d be pissed too, I say to him with my eyes.
Finally. My turn. Today is a big day. I get a free drink, which means I have already consumed 12. “Things are going to start happening now.” I told the barista as I handed her my free card. “Oh yes they are.” She smiled back. Barista number two handed me my coffee and offered me to have a nice day.
I sat down and got situated into my allotted 14″ space in a way that would prevent spilling hot coffee onto my keyboard. The air plants nestled in their handmade pots were a nice touch but dug into limited real estate. The plants and I have come to an understanding. We did go through a rough period a few months back where I tried to push them out of the way, but that moved them into the other persons 14″. And boy, did I hear about it.
A few minutes into typing my assignment, which is due this afternoon, I began to feel pulled into the cadence of the baristas.
“Hello. What can I get started for you? “
“Have a good day.”
“How are you this morning?”
“Good. What can I get for you today?”
“Have a nice day.”
My mind is off. Yes, my mind accepts any diversion available, especially when there is a deadline looming. I start grappling with these benign phrases, “Have a good day.” and “Have a nice day.”
What exactly do they mean? Really? Okay, they are kind, maybe even friendly.
No. They are empty. Flat. I’ll say it – telling someone to have a nice or a good day seems insincere. Fake. And it is handed out like Halloween candy hundreds of thousands of times daily. Starbucks alone employees 160,000 baristas. That is a lot of candy.
For the sake of simple math, lets add another 40,000 baristas working at the cool, funky coffee shops. Now imagine this sliver of our workforce has 70 interactions per hour for their 5-hour morning shift.
I think we have some major mad love spreaders.
During the first five hours of every day, this population can affect the trajectory of 70 million lives by simply changing their tune from flat to sparkly.
“Have a sparkling day.”
“Light it up today!”
“Show the f*ck up today!” (Just wanted to make sure you were still reading. Don’t use this one.)
“Have a meaningful day.”
See where I am going here? I have been telling people to have a sparkling day for the last 10 years. Those that know me expect it and it still stops them in their tracks. Sometimes instead of saying “bye”, I say “sparkle, sparkle”. This elicits a smile every. single. time. Seriously. Every single time. Why? Because it is unexpected. The volley actually puts some onus on the receiver to do something. If nothing else it makes them think or shakes them out of the morning drill. Maybe even hands over a little responsibility.
It also connects the giver to the receiver.
I can just smell the aroma of possibility.
I wish there was a way for me to do this little experiment. Ask every barista to change their language. Maybe if we all agreed to up our tips by 25 cents…
I’ll keep working on that. In the interim I beg you to stop yourself from inviting someone to have a good day. Instead, invite them to sparkle.