this morning's barista (& my messy beautiful).


I stand in line at Starbucks, eyeing shelves filled with baked bliss, dreaming of caffeine’s ping! even though I’ve already gulped down my own lethal limit for the day.  When I get to the counter, I place my order, succumbing to decaffeinated second-place.

“I’ll have a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, and a tall decaf drip with room.”

The woman behind the counter stills, slightly stunned.  She punches a few buttons, murmuring “bacon, egg and cheese… bacon, egg and cheese…” to herself a couple of times.  It’s obvious she might just be figuring out to work this machine for the first time in her life.

“I’m sorry, and what else?” she says, not flustered in the least.  I look to my right, at the Advanced Green and White Veteran ringing patrons up, one after another, after another.  I yearn to be in her line.  I yearn to already have my cup o’ joe in hand, to already have placed my bum in the comfy leather chair, to already be typing away at the keyboard.

“And a decaf drip with room, for here,” I say, adding for here, self-congratulating my eco-savvy ways.  Now she looks confused.

“A what?”

“A decaf drip with room, for here,” I sputter, more emphatically this time.  Am I the one speaking a foreign language?  Now I’m starting to get confused: Do my words not make sense?  Have I officially become a mumbler in the last three minutes? And more importantly, am I dreaming?

She looks at the screen in front of her: “What does drip mean?”  she says aloud to the computer portal, leaning slightly to her left.

The computer answers her, in the form of the barista whose line I yearn to be in: “Decaf means it doesn’t have any caffeine in it, and it’s in that pot right behind you.”  She points, patiently showing her co-worker the orange-topped lid, perhaps for the fifth time that morning.

“And drip means regular coffee, the ones in those canisters.  Not from a machine,” she adds.  She nods to the girl, making sure she gets it before moving on to quickly – quickly! – help the next person in line, the 12th person to go through before I get my long-awaited steamy mug.

She is so patient.  I am so not.

I’m now leaning over the counter, pleading as I wave dollar bills in the general direction of the barista whose line I so desperately want to be standing in.  I raise my eyebrows.  I tilt my head to the side, like a puppy in need of attention from her master: Please help me, please help me, please help me – I just want you you you you you!!!  I’m desperate. Ring me upppppppp!!!  

But she pays me no heed.  I am the other girl’s patron.  She rings up another five people while I watch my barista move in slow motion.  My girl flies down to South America, and climbs up a ladder; she picks coffee bean pods by hand, one slow-motion finger at a time.  She flies northbound again, she roasts and grinds and adds hot water to the beans, one pithy moment at a time.

I now lay on the floor, salivating for morning delight.

Finally, she finishes, carefully, gingerly handing me the decaf drip with room, for  here, I’ve yearned after.  She smiles, as she should.  I frown, as I should.  St. Anne’s words echo in my mind: “Lord, grant me the serenity to change the things I cannot change …which is everybody else.”  I laugh a little bit to myself, the memory of Anne Lamott on stage pinching her back fat, for emphasis, for effect, still fresh in my mind.

And then it hits me: Perhaps Lamott’s words were merely meant to make me laugh.  Because sometimes, in the absurdity of humor, we find truth.

Truth be told, I’m the one refusing to smile at the absurdity of a Starbucks’ barista who doesn’t understand the definition of “drip.”  I’m the one not seeing the Beauty in this girl standing in front of me, who’s obviously trying her hardest.  I’m the one lacking patience, I’m the one who’s forgotten that the world does not revolve around her, I’m the one currently suffering from I Just Need To Be Right syndrome.  And I’m the one who’s simply forgotten her humanity, who’s refused to let bygones be bygones, who’s kept Grace to herself.

I’m the one who’s a beautiful mess. 

And that’s okay.  Because Beauty and Messy belong together.  They hold hands, and they hug.  They filter and sift through this absurd thing called Life side by side.  A sometimes we have to sit in a few minutes of the muck of messiness in order to see true beauty, so that light might filter throughout the darkness.

So, Cheers.  Cheers to your messiness and mine, and cheers to your beauty and my own as well.

xo, c.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — to learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!  And if you haven’t, you HAVE to read the New York Times Bestselling Memoir, Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback.  Otherwise, how are YOU messy AND beautiful right now?  

7 thoughts on “this morning's barista (& my messy beautiful).

  1. Ok, so we (Matt was reading over my shoulder) were cracking up over this and he recalled a certain Sesame Street episode with Grover as a slow barista:
    And, yes, I’ve been there, too. Like the time I threw a fit when Matt brought donuts home and failed to get my favorite- chocolate old fashioned. It’s like, who cares? The man brought home donuts!

    1. Oh friends: 1. I can’t WAIT to watch the Sesame Street episode (and good memory, Matt!), and 2. here’s to being thankful for the decaf coffee and donuts we DO have!! 🙂

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