Coffee For The Monkeys

, , , , | Hopeless | April 25, 2016

(My daughter has an unusual name, and even when we write the pronunciation beside the spelling on forms or other documents, people still always mispronounce it. She is eight years old. We are at a coffee shop and each person in our family is getting a drink.)

Husband: “Flat white.”

Barista: “Name?”

Husband: “[Husband].”

Me: “They would each like a caramel frappuccino with whipped cream.”

Barista: *to my older daughter* “Your name?”

Older Daughter: “[Older Daughter].”

Barista: *to my younger daughter* “Your name?”

(I can see my daughter hesitating to say her name because it is never a simple process, even if you say it, then spell it immediately, people always comment on it.)

Me: *to her* “You can give any name you want. It doesn’t have to be YOUR name.”

Younger Daughter: *to barista* “Monkey Face!”

Barista: *laughing* “Okay, Monkey Face!” *to the drink-maker* “Here is a cup for Monkey Face.” *they both laugh and my daughter is happy*

Me: “And I’d like [my order], please.”

Barista: “You must be Mom?”

Me: “Yes. You can just put ‘Mom’ on mine.”

(When we picked up our drinks, I saw she had actually written “SuperMom!” on my cup. I “awww”ed and thanked her. Very sweet.)

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Food For Thoughtfulness

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | April 22, 2016

(A group of friends and I travel to New Hampshire to campaign for a political candidate. We are sleeping on the floor of a community center in a tiny town with very few food options, and since we’ve traveled with a group from our school, none of us have access to a car. After a long day of knocking on doors in the snow, we desperately try to find a restaurant that delivers, to no avail. We set out to the nearest place we can find, which is about a 20-minute walk. We get there at least a few minutes before the stated closing time, but there is already a woman sweeping the front entrance, so I know they are done for the night. Since I work in food service and hate people who demand complicated meals right before we close, I told my friends we should just go home. Then, the woman opens the door and motions us in, out of the cold.)

Woman: “What can I do for you all?”

Me: “I’m really sorry; I know you’re trying to close. We were just looking for a place to get something to eat.”

Woman: “I’m afraid our kitchen is closed, but I can get you guys some drinks from the bar while you warm up.”

Me: “You’re very kind, but we’re really hungry, and since we’re all under 21 I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

Woman: “Most of the places in town are closed, but there’s a Mexican place about a 10-minute drive from here that’s open for another hour. Do you have a car?”

Me: “No, but thanks for the suggestion. We can walk or take a cab.”

Woman: “Don’t be silly; I’ll give you guys a lift.”

(Before we can say anything, she takes her apron off, runs to the kitchen, and comes back with her purse and keys. She ends up driving us to the restaurant in her minivan. During the conversation that follows, we find out that she owns the restaurant, while also working as a nurse because she doesn’t make enough from the restaurant to pay the bills. She also has a daughter in college, about our age. During the ride, we all pool our cash and try to pay her for her time and gas.)

Woman: “Absolutely not. You kids just make sure to pay it forward someday.”

(I will probably never see this woman again, but I think of her all the time and the kindness she showed us.)

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An Anti-Depressing Turn Of Events

, , , , | Healthy Right | April 22, 2016

(This happened during what was one of the worst times in my life. I’ve just transferred to a new college and it is a rough transition. I am lonely, self-conscious, have about a million doubts about myself and my life. My anxiety has gotten so bad that I am literally sobbing in the doctor’s office just by attempting to discuss it with him. This man has been my whole family’s doctor for most of my life.)

Doctor: “I know you’re reluctant to try medication, a lot of people are, but sometimes it’s just brain chemistry. And seeing you here like this, hearing that you’ve already tried therapy, I just want to help you find something that will help you.”

Me: “I just don’t want that to mean that there’s something wrong with me.”

Doctor: “That’s not what this means. It means that you’re doing what you need to do in order to live a happy, healthy life. And if it doesn’t work for you, you can stop whenever you want. Look, there’s this new anti-depressant that’s still in trial stages but it’s doing really well and has minimal side effects. How about I give you some of the free samples and you just try it out?”

(I eventually, reluctantly, agreed to this. As I left, I was handed a cardboard box, definitely bigger than I’d anticipated for just a few free samples. It turned out that my doctor had given me ten bottles of the stuff, all free samples, so that I would have enough that I could take back to college with me if I decided to use it, plus some free samples of an allergy spray that he knew I sometimes had trouble affording, and a prescription for another anti-depressant just in case this one didn’t work for me. This doctor honestly saved me. I took those anti-depressants for just about a year and they worked. I don’t take them anymore; I’ve changed enough in mind and body and lifestyle that I don’t need them now. But I never would have gotten to this point without them. My doctor took the time and effort to think of me as a person as well as a patient and went the extra mile to make sure I’d be ok. THANK YOU. This, to me, is what all doctors should strive to be.)

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The Last Gesture Just Takes The Cake

, , , , | Working | April 19, 2016

(A friend and I are out for lunch. We’re both somewhat socially awkward and have been quiet and stumbling over our words a bit when speaking to others since entering. We’re attempting to pay for our meal and not doing the best job of it. We’ve been trying to sort out coins and not drop any while talking for about a minute and a half.)

Me: *mumbling* “So, uh, that would’ve been three pounds… or would it have been two? And added to yours it would be—”

Friend: “I think the drinks were two fifty? And added to the meal—”

Me: “But how much each is that? Do we pay the whole thing split in half or for our own meals separately or—”

Lady At The Till: “Would you like me to tell you how much it was each?”

(The relief must be visible on our faces because she smiles at us, and then gives us the prices for our meals separately. After we’ve paid, however, I realise a slight problem; there was something we hadn’t paid for due to having split it between us and not a slice each since there had only been one left.)

Me: “Wait, what about the cake? Do we… do we pay for that half each since we split it? Or should I pay since I had the cheaper meal? Or—”

Lady At The Till: “Don’t worry about the cake. You can just have it on us.”

(We were both surprised by this and spent a little while longer stumbling over our words while asking if she was sure. She assured us that she was and was remarkably patient about the whole thing. We thanked her and left. It was a small thing, really, but it left me feeling warm inside the rest of the day.)

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A Good Sign(s) Of The Times

, , , , , , , , , | Working | April 19, 2016

(I am deaf, and so I communicate mostly by reading lips and using BSL (British Sign Language). I frequent a coffee shop every day on my way to work, but since the place is always busy and in a rush I usually have my order written down to speed things along. This time however, was different.)

Me: *hands barista my order on paper*

Barista: *looks down at the paper, and then up at me, and then beams a huge smile*

(All of a sudden, the barista starts talking to me in fluent BSL!)

Barista: *in BSL* “Hi, I was hoping I’d catch you today!”

Me: *replying in BSL* “You know BSL?”

Barista: “Just a little. Ever since you’ve been coming in and felt like you had to write your order down on paper, I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I think you should be able to order just like everyone else, so I started learning BSL. How am I doing?”

(At this point I start tearing up, and am so emotional I can barely sign.)

Me: “I think… that’s one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me.”

Barista: “It is absolutely my pleasure. Now, shall I get you your regular?”

(It has been years since that encounter, and every day the barista was there we would have a small chat in BSL. She has since left but we remain in touch and I always thank her for that day when someone learnt a whole language just to make me fit in.)

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