Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thoughts Caffeine Gives Me.

Over the past several years-in an effort to be more financially responsible-what were once near daily stops into coffee shops, have decreased to no more than a few visits each year.  I’m quite okay with this as I’ve come to love my own brew from my own mug on my own couch the best.   That said, I was not disappointed that a post-Christmas collection of Starbucks gift cards necessitated a trip to my old stomping grounds on a recent rainy morning.   The aroma welcomed me like a warm hug as I walked in, flicking drips of water from my coat, and headed towards the register.   I placed my order and was handed a cup of coffee which I slid down the counter, along with my banana to wait for my cup of ice water.  I continued to wait-apparently the shift from coffee making to pouring water had thrown the baristas off of their game, so I snuck off to the bathroom in the interim.  As I returned towards  the counter to pick up my completed order, I saw a man holding and inspecting my coffee.  He had a beard (redundant to write I suppose, because coffee shop) and thick glasses and I smiled patiently as he glanced over his shoulder at me.

“I’m just trying to see…”  he offered.

“Oh, it’s my coffee” I responded, assuming he’d also just arrived at the counter and had mistaken it for his.

“Oh, but I just am…”  he continued to study my cup.

“No, it’s my coffee” I reiterated, and if I sounded a bit harsh I didn’t mean it.  It was just that he was the only obstacle preventing the caffeine from being in me. 

“Oh, sorry” he said, not sounding very sorry at all.  He set my coffee down and stepped to the side to allow me room to pick up my snack.  Confused, I saw that there were now two bananas on the counter.  This puzzled me for longer than it should have, on account of not having had enough caffeine.  My friend, the coffee stealer, offered his observation,

“Oh, I got a banana too.”

Of course you did.  “Which one is mine?”

He chuckled, “Well, that really doesn’t matter, does it?” 

I paused.   Now, this was the kind of comment that deserved a long sit-down conversation over a cup of hot coffee.  But, doing so would result in my being quite late for work, a risk I just couldn’t take despite the potential philosophical learnings behind such a statement.   And so, with a glance, I grabbed my banana--the early yellowed one, still with a hint of green along one ridge, likely of the California variety and left behind the larger, but more golden-hued banana with flecks of brown and a small bruise developing near the stem for my friend.  In that half-second I also thought about leaving him with the better of the bananas, an instinctual mom response, but decided against it.  I bid my friend a good day and headed back into the rain towards my car.   

One obvious component of a job in home-care is the immense amount of driving time involved.  This would be your answer if you find yourself wondering how it is that I harmonize so well with Justin Bieber.   In addition to radio karaoke, when I allow, these drives also give me some quiet time alone with my thoughts.  Imagine, up to twenty minutes at a time of uninterrupted thinking:  my children, where I might have left my checkbook, what to make for dinner,  my future, my past, my to-do list, the book of Hebrews,  the Kardashians, the environmental implications of plastics, which country I could move to if Trump is elected president,  my prayer list, vacation dreams, work thoughts, and who I can get to babysit this weekend.   These thoughts float randomly in and out of my head as I merge between traffic lanes, unless I am thinking about focusing in which case I try to just concentrate on that.  

But, not on this day.  This rainy December day, I thought about the Starbucks guy who implied that one banana is the same as the next.  That really doesn’t matter.  Can you imagine?  Certainly, there are many things that matter more;  I’d give him that.   But to imply that choosing a banana is the same as picking a stick of gum out of a pack?  I'm sorry sir, but no.   Likely, he was just being polite, having been caught off-guard by my interrupting his attempted coffee lacing.  Or, maybe his super-thick glasses were an indication that he wasn’t able to see the subtle variances in the fruits and really believed them all to be the same.   Possibilities ran through my brain as the wipers squeaked back and forth across the windshield in a gentle cadence. 

A few days later, my caffeine buzz wore off (no more Starbucks, Christi!), but not before I actually googled bananas and discovered to my dismay that they are, in fact, all genetically the same.  (Here's the part of the blog where we learn something!  I was quite embarrassed to learn this given my earlier rant and waste of precious thinking time.  But then, I remembered a few years back when I was shopping for groceries in the Dominican Republic where I was on a mission trip.  The man working at the market apologized for the state of their unsightly bananas as he handed them across the counter to the missionary I was shopping with.  They were already speckled with brown, smelling all fragrant and banana-y.

"Wait about a week to eat these, please", the grocer pleaded with the missionary who later explained to me that in the Dominican, they wouldn't so much as consider selling a banana with a hint of green on it.

This recollection turned my stomach a bit, but helped me to circle back to my initial thinking which is to say that: I am right.  I'm not going so far as to suggest that a banana is better if it is less or more ripe (although we all know...); I'm  just saying there is a difference for crying out loud!  Even if genetically they may all the same-which is pretty strange if you ask me-they are still unique.  Just as is each beautiful sunrise that rises each morning by the same sun in the same sky where I watch from my couch while drinking my coffee. 

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