Talking to strangers

A story of a drive-thru barista and her interactions with the many strangers she met through those windows.

When I was 15 years old I held my first job as a barista. I worked at a little coffee stand near an old state highway located in a small town with approximately 4,000 people. I woke up every Saturday and Sunday at 4:30am to open the doors at 5am. The mornings were busy with local farmers and early birds stopping by to order their “usual.” Amongst the hustle and bustle I found a lot of joy in being up before the sunrise. Waking up to the smell of freshly pressed coffee and feeling the crisp early morning breeze as I opened my little drive-thru window. What I found most interesting about this job, (which I continued to do until I was 20) was that, after sometime I came to realise that I played a much bigger role than I would have originally signed up for. I was no longer just a barista, some days I felt like a priest at the other end of the confessional. People would often pour their lives out to me, they would share personal stories, life events, and sometimes even cry. Why? Why did these people choose to share their lives with me?

My understanding as I reflect on those interactions is that everyone always has something to say, whether it be positive, critical or even cynical. People just want someone to hear them, to listen without judgement or rebuttals. Who can blame us? Life is difficult and sometimes the people you love the most are not the people that you want to pour all your concerns and worries to.

When I look back on this now, I think about the amazing strangers I met through those windows, and I feel responsible to give back as much as they gave me. You see while I listened, I learned, while I responded, I acknowledged and as I smiled, I felt. There is no better gift than giving someone else your time, after all we are all just waiting for someone to listen. ✨