Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How I Became a Starbucks Stalker - Pt. 4

Nothing. It had been four days since "J" had sent that note under my muffin and still nothing. I dutifully showed up to that Starbucks each morning in hopes of reconnecting with my new friend but he was no where to be found. I peppered the now familiar baristas with questions of his whereabouts but if they knew anything, they weren't telling. I even went so far as to bribe Tammy, the cashier, with five bucks to spill the beans, so to speak, as to who the guy was. She held firm but took my money and quickly put it in the tip jar with both a smile and a wink.

His note haunted me. What took me so long? What could he possibly mean by that? I pondered with labored effort to grasp some understanding but the statement was lost on me. I took out my laptop and typed those words into the Word document I had started that very first day that I had met him. People. What took me so long? Then suddenly it hit me. The first thing that popped into my head was the word time and then the word focus just seemed to magically appear out of no where. I quickly typed the two words into my document. I felt like Sherlock Holmes all of a sudden, discovering a clue that would lead me ever closer to solving a mystery; my mystery.

I sat there and let a sense of real accomplishment perk to the surface when suddenly there was a tiny tap on my shoulder. Still focused on what I had just written, I made the mental assumption before ever turning around that the shoulder tapper would no doubt be J. He was there to relish in my word discovery. I turned and before I ever looked I said, "You meant taking the time to focus didn't you?" My huge sappy grin was replaced with absolute embarrassment when I realized there standing behind me was not J but a little old lady clutching a purse and a cup of coffee.

"Oh I am so sorry. I thought you were someone else," I said.

"Oh dear boy, don't be silly. You are obviously excited about something. I hate to disturb you when you have such important work," she said.

"No Mame, you are not disturbing me the least bit. I just figured something out is all."

"You sure did Steve." She smiled as the fact she knew my name flew right over my head. "In fact, that's exactly why J asked me to stop in this morning. He just knew you were going to figure something out today." My heart stopped. You know J I thought to myself.

With those words she introduced herself as Madge, set her belongings down on the table, pulled a chair very close to me and sat down. It seemed my new friend Madge was a long-time friend of J's. She claimed to have met him in a very similar way as to how our paths crossed; at a Starbucks wouldn't you know. It seems Madge was a lonely widow that rarely got out of the house. No family nearby and aside from the occasional trip to the bank and the grocery she seldom set foot outside her front door. That was until they built a Starbucks near her house. Relishing the chance to be out amongst the living, she ventured out nearly every day, enjoyed some coffee and a roll now and then and just enjoyed watching the people. That was until one fateful day when she met J.

It seems our good friend J gets around and on the day his path crossed with Madge's, he was already certain they would not only talk but would become good friends, in fact he insisted on it. "You know the kind of friends like he is with you," she said somewhat apologetically. I assumed her comment was meant to insure that their friendship couldn't be misconstrued as anything more. She was sweet and so incredibly put together, I found myself increasing drawn to her.

"You see until I met J, I wasn't really living. I wasn't really doing much of anything, except maybe waiting to die," she chuckled. "But something drew me to that Starbucks and kept me coming back day after day until at last I met our friend." A big smile appeared on her face. She looked off into space for a moment and seemed to momentarily relive their first meeting. "He saved my life don'tcha know."

It seems that J appeared out of no where, much like he did with me. Though he claimed he wasn't hiding, she just wasn't ready to meet him just yet. So he waited. Patiently. Quitely. Waited for that moment when she was ready and then he came to her. She told the story as if she and I had walked on the same path together. I related to her story in so many ways and felt a twinge of appreciation and honor that J had somehow chosen us both to talk to.

"J and I had a number of great coffee chats and he was the one that opened my eyes."

"Opened your eyes," I asked with a subtle confusion.

"Yes he opened my eyes to a lot of things but people most of all." She took a long pause and reached for my hand. Her pale fragile skin felt warm and safe - it reminded me of my own grandmother's hand. A pang in heart shot through me like an electric shock. She looked into my eyes, intent on insuring I heard and felt what she was about to say to me. "He showed me that people are stories waiting to be told. You just have to be willing to take the time, give your focus and ask the right questions. If you do that a world of possibilities will open up to you."

The words hung there like mystical stars lighting my mental darkness for the first time. She squeezed my hand and said, "You get it Steve. More than you know." She gave me a big smile and patted my knee as I grappled with the story she just told me.

"Yes sir, J saved my life. He reminded me that I could either be a spectator of it or an active player in it. And like you, he started showing me how to get into the game."

There was no doubt J had come into both of our lives for a reason. As Madge and I chit chatted about what we had both learned and how many great people we had already both met along the way, I just hoped I could find that reason out sooner, rather than later.


terri said...

OH. MY. GOSH. Either you are a phenomenal storyteller, or you experienced a true miracle in meeting "J." It really doesn't matter to me. I get it now.

Clint Powell said...

Incredible story Steve. Can't wait for the next edition.

You should make this story your next book!


Arlin K. Pauler said...

Yep! There's that shape shift again.
When I can't tell if what I am reading is an eloquent story of physical or metaphysical Life, I know I am witnessing a truly amazing event. The meaning in the story keeps shifting right before my minds eye. The Muse is an amazing thing isn't it?
I am so eager for the next episode. Keep it coming Steve; keep it coming!
What a hoot!
Your Friend and colleague, Arlin.

Sue said...

... :-)