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Coffee Break

Life is too short to be so angry. A stranger taught me to stop and smell the coffee.

I’m a fan of coffee. Actually, I can’t get enough of the stuff. Can I function without it? Yes. Do I want to? No.

I can remember my great grandmother filling my little cup with iced coffee when I was still shorter than her. (Nanny was 4-7, so I outgrew her by the time I was nine.) She’d make two pots of coffee in the morning. One was to have with breakfast and the other was to sit during the day to cool for iced coffee in the afternoon. I was always allowed to have as much as I wanted. Perhaps I should be mad that it stunted my growth: I only made it to 5-10. 

I took a break from work the other day and ran to Dunkin Donuts to grab an afternoon coffee. I stood second in the line behind a man ordering a mocha-coconut-caramel-mint-vanilla-hazelnut latte with extra cream and 2¾ sugar packets. He took f..o..r..e..v..e..r.

But, he was really excited about his beverage, so I didn’t mind the wait. When his order was complete, he stepped aside to wait at the other end of the counter and I stepped forward, ready to order my boring plain ol’ cup of joe. As I stepped forward, my foot came out of my backless shoe. Without thinking, I said “oops” to no one in particular and slid my foot back into my shoe. 

The woman behind me, we’ll call her Pam, spoke up. “Sometimes, when I’m angry, I kick my shoes off too.” I turned towards her. Pam went on, “Seriously, when I’m mad, like really mad, I’ll just kick my shoes off. And I’ll kick things too.”

I wanted to just order my coffee and go wait with Mr. Flavorful down at the other end of the counter, but Pam wanted to say more and part of me wanted to hear it because it was just so unexpected. “Everyone wants to kick something sometime.” Yikes.

Her arms were crossed tightly against her and she just stood there and looked at me. Even though my intuition told me to keep my mouth shut, I just couldn’t oblige. 

“I’m not angry,” I said. Pam’s scowl and response, “Pffftt,” was followed by a snort. Her foot tapping seemed to echo that disbelief in Morse code. Just to be clear folks, I really wasn’t angry.

If we asked a psychologist, he might have said that Pam may have been projecting, but who knows for sure. Instead of going further into who was angry and who wasn’t, I simply said, “Okay.” I ordered my coffee and moved along. 

Lesson Learned

I was not mad. Pam was mad. It wasn’t the time to talk with Pam about how life is short, but hopefully someone will have that talk with her some day. I can’t make any promises, but I’m going to try and calm down and self-soothe the next time I’m in line (and probably running late) so that I don’t end up talking about angrily kicking things with perfect strangers. And, I’m not going to assume that someone losing a shoe equals rage either.

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Larry August 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Life is indeed short.In dealing with the Pams of the world I remind myself that things are so bad that even the subways have going underground.
Gabriella Fields August 30, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I agree with you Angela. I always check myself if I am getting aggitated and tell myself that life is too short. Just smile and the world smiles with you!!!
Angela Speakman August 30, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Larry, After writing this post, I was more aware of the Pams in the world in every line I stood in. Although, I saw a Pam recently who was justifiably annoyed that she was waiting behind someone with 30 items in the 10 items or less express lane. Needless to say, I moved to a different checkout lane.
Angela Speakman August 30, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Ann, Thanks for the words of smiling. I agree with you; it's an important thing to remember!

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