Monday, April 28, 2008

How I Became a Starbucks Stalker - Pt. 3

Over the next several days I arrived extra early and waited for my new friend to arrive. I found myself unable to concentrate, defaulting to nervously watching the door each time it opened hoping to see his smiling face walk through it. Each time I found myself a little more disappointed.

Where had he gone? I went through our last meeting over and over again, each time my heart sinking at my bad manners. Had my not asking him his name really offended him that much? Spending the time I had with him I assumed not, but then again where in the world was he? It was a question I begged to ask but there was no one there to answer. My coffee cup proving, each of those mornings, that it was neither fortune teller nor magic eight ball. His absence remained a mystery.

Each day I found a way to pass the time by concentrating a little more on each face that came through the door. Looking back there must have been hundreds; it was after all a very busy Starbucks. I found myself asking the mental question of whether this person might know him or that person might know him, over and over again. I sat for long periods of time slowly sipping my coffee and just watching. My eyes more than once meeting someone else's, only this time, rather thank looking away as I might have before, I kept the contact and smiled. To which many smiles were returned. I learned that from him.

Three days had passed and still no sign of my new friend but somehow on the fourth morning, I didn't pay it any mind. Four days had passed and many of the strange faces now looked oddly familiar to me, a bounty no doubt from days of just watching, observing. Smiles were exchanged as if old friends were seeing each other after a long break. 'Good mornings and how are you doing this mornings' were exchanged. People took a pause from their morning ritual of hustle and bustle to stop and chat; something that no longer felt awkward and unusual...but simply right. It would be hard to explain but these people somehow made me feel more alive.

I was knee deep in conversation with a fascinating chap named Bob, an insurance salesman who was about to embark on a lifelong dream of going to Italy when it happened. One of the Starbucks baristas tapped me on my shoulder, mid sentence, and offered me a blueberry muffin. At first I was confused, having not ordered a muffin I assumed he had somehow mistakenly brought me someone else's order. He insisted it was mine and handed me the plate. Neatly tucked under my muffin was a folded up piece of paper.

Bob, glancing down at his watch, politely excused himself; he was late for a meeting. We shook hands as new friends do and he promised to fill me on his trip when he got back. He left me looking still rather dumbfounded with muffin in one hand, a note in the other and now all of the baristas smiling at me from behind the counter. Embarrassed, I gathered my composure, sat down and opened the note. It read:

Hey my friend! Have you missed me? I have been very busy this week and unable to make our morning chats. My friends behind the counter tell me that you've made good use of your time however. I look forward to hearing all about it, next time we meet. Until then, I ask you to think about this. What took you so long?

Your Friend and Java Buddy,

J

J? So J was his name? I smiled and took a bite of my muffin and saluted the folks behind the counter that were so obviously in J's plot to surprise me that morning. As I enjoyed the last remnants of my coffee and my yummy muffin, I thought about his question.

What on Earth did he mean by, "What took you so long?"

6 comments:

Sue said...

I'm a bit confuzzled myself. But, strangely, I smile at this story.

Anonymous said...

What took you so long? I can't wait to hear what he meant too.

I love the way you tell stories Steve. Keep it up. I am sharing this with my entire team btw - we are all sucked in.

Mike McCarthy

terri said...

You were able to figure out his name was J? From the webdings?

Oh, and by the way... I'm hoping this story goes on and on and on...

Steve Harper said...

Sue,

I see from your other comments you got caught up - hope that helped with the confuzzlness. (SMILE)

Ripple On my friend!

S

Steve Harper said...

Mike,

Don't worry...it will be revealed soon enough.

Thanks for the compliment by the way.

Ripple On!!!

Steve Harper said...

Terri,

Thanks for the heads up that the "note" doesn't come across in all browsers - I was just playing with the font. It's fixed now. Great catch.

Ripple On My Friend!

S