I had quite an exceptional morning yesterday. I was up at 5:30am, waiting for my phone to ring. I waited for a while, lying in bed aimlessly, and finally it was 6:30am and my alarm rang loud and clear. Not sure whose call I was waiting for. No one on this side of the hemisphere for sure! My brain was experiencing extreme anxiety and as a result of this I got ready at a record speed and reached the station 25 minutes before my train’s expected arrival time. Usually I leave 2.5 minutes of margin time. I am not kidding.
I parked my car at the station and realized that I had a lot of time on hand. It was a perfect excuse to get myself a big mug of coffee. I know some of you might be saying in your heads, “what an American thing to do.” Well you see I was born this way (just like Lady Gaga). There isn’t a single day in my life when I don’t crave a big mug of coffee. Preferably blue but white will also do. And being in the US has nothing to do with that. If you still doubt me, go ask my mother about my love for coffee. She will be happy to share her woes with you. Coffee and I are meant for each other. Agam just turned green reading this. Well that might be better for the environment anyways.
So I dropped by at Neto and asked for the usual. The barista looked at me and said, “Do you want a double?” I snapped back at him, “do I look like that? Perhaps I forgot to put on some make up.” We laughed and he turned around to start making my double tall non fat latte (what did you think my usual was?! Especially at 7:00am). I love talking to strangers. Yeah that sounds strange. Remember I was a consultant in a past life? And so I talk to everyone: the cashier at Safeway, Caltrain conductors, baristas, taxi drivers and so on. I don’t like keeping questions to myself. So I ask fearlessly. With the same spirit of inquiry, I asked the barista if he knew what had happened to the coffee stall at the station. I used to see it on Fridays while I was at Deloitte and ever since I have switched jobs, I haven’t seen it open even once. I was looking forward to grabbing coffee on the go, just before I took the train (yes all in the 2.5minutes margin that I usually leave).
The barista said the guy who ran the shop was deported back to Mexico. The aww sound I made after hearing this was not genuine. I faked it. Just like everyone else does 🙂 I knew the guy would find his way back into the country someway someday. The barista did not care about it either. He went on, “But you know I am planning to get one of those trucks, park it right there (pointing to a location close to the station) and start a business. You know – coffee, croissant and bananas. Every morning until 11:00am. Or maybe till 1:00pm?”
His spirit and enthusiasm struck me like lightning. I was charmed by his ambition and wondered when I had last talked like him. The barista spoke fearlessly of his plans. I started to envy him and faked a few smiles before eventually tuning him out.
When I returned to the moment, the barista was swiping my credit card. I asked him what progress he had made on his plans till now. He said, “Not much. It needs a lot of money.” I finally dropped my worries about my ambitionless self, and got serious about the topic. The barista also noticed the change in my body language. I asked him how much he needed. He admitted that he had not calculated it yet.” I frowned and told him that he should estimate a budget and have the number ready when I returned in a few days. We all should not only know what we want, but also be cognizant of what it takes to make our dreams come true. If we don’t have these components in place, we might as well be hallucinating. He liked the idea and admitted that he should know the number. He was happy that someone listened to his dream that morning. As I walked to the station, with the sound track of ‘To Rome with Love’ in my ears, I wondered how little it took to help someone. I was happy about my morning and enjoyed my train ride to SF.
The train was a little late and I realized I had to be in the office for a training class in the next 12 minutes. The only way I could make it happen was if I took a cab from the station. And so I did. As the cab approached an intersection close to the office, the traffic light turned red and I asked the cabbie to drop me off at the intersection. He refused to do that since he was only going to let me get off on the ‘safe’ side. I insisted. But he was not only right but also stubborn. When we reached the office, he said to me, “Looks like you have a long day ahead.” I smiled and said yes. He then turned around and said, “Well remember, it will not last. It will also end. Just like it always does.” He shared his advice with me and I felt better.
The loop was complete. My deed from the morning was reciprocated.
I love my strangers. They add a dash of hope, love and grace in my life.