I have a morning ritual with Lala, as many of you know. Neither one of us knows the meaning of “snooze button” though Lala has a tendency to sleep through me leaving for yoga during the darker winter months. Dogs’ Circadian Rhythms are of course, untainted.
We get up way too early (6ish), whisper a few sweet nothings to each other while locking eyes, then leap out of bed. I grab my dog-walking purse, a small cross-body faux-leather pouch that is only big enough to hold two things: poop bags and $1 bills. Since all the strip clubs are either closed or really terrifying at that hour, we take our $1 bills to our favorite coffee cart instead. I can’t drink much caffeine these days, but a small $1 cup of weak but delicious NYC coffee cart coffee is my daily indulgence.
My love of coffee carts didn’t develop until about 9 months ago and I can’t believe I spent a damn decade here without giving them a chance. They’re cheap. They’re convenient. I don’t have to put on real clothes or makeup. They open at the butt crack of dawn AND I can go there with Lala. In short, my ideal culinary destination.
We always go to the same cart where the CEO (I’m gonna call him that because he’s clearly the head honcho) gives me my little cup of joe and Lala a half slice of bacon every morning. Yes, my spoiled dog gets bacon every morning except Sunday when we mourn the fact that no coffee carts are open on the Lord’s Day. Why he decided to be so generous with us I’ll never know. I can’t imagine his profit margins are high enough to be giving bacon away, but maybe he can just tell how much I love him and he appreciates it. Or maybe he’s a dog lover. Who knows? He calls me darling, he calls Lala “LAAAAla” in his Pakistani accent and he makes my day everyday. All I’m sayin’ is, if I wasn’t married…
This past Saturday morning Lala and I made our normal trip to the cart but to our dismay, our friend wasn’t there. I asked about him and his sub informed me that the boss man had gone on vacation for a few days. “Good, he deserves it!” I said. We exchanged the $1 bill for the coffee and I dragged Lala away licking her chops in confusion as to why the cart didn’t give her bacon today. Far be it for me to try and weasel bacon out of the sub. Only the CEO can give away the goods, I thought.
So today after our Sunday hiatus, we went back to the cart and greeted our new friend. Before I could open my mouth to order he had my little coffee sitting up on the counter and was dangling a fresh piece of bacon out of the window and saying “LAAAAla, SIT. SIT LaLAAA!”. Stunned. “He told me about you,” said the sub, clearly referring to my friend the CEO. Speechless. I took a sip and gave him a real sincere, heartfelt thank you. He looked me in the eyes with the most earnest expression and said, “How is my coffee… good???”.
And I could tell he really cared. He truly cared about my opinion and took pride in that $1 cup of coffee. At that moment he was filling in for the CEO and was going to do him proud AND make the repeat customer happy. I haven’t received that level of care, kindness and customer service anywhere in a really long time and any time that I DID, I was sure as hell spending a lot more than one lousy dollar. “It’s really, really good. Really. Thank you,” I said, and we walked away. When the CEO comes back I’ll be sure to tell him what a great job the sub did but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy getting to know our new coffee and bacon friend.
Maybe it’s because I attended the Landmark Forum this weekend. Or maybe it’s because I’m just a big softy. But for some reason, this touched me on a very deep level. Everything we think, do, touch, and make can be an offering. Selling a $1 cup of coffee can be an art and a passion. We are all the same. We just want to be happy, be recognized, and make others smile. There is no real measure of success or worth, other than the one inside our heads. There is no better or worse lot in life. We all have the power to make our offering the most pure, sincere, well-intentioned offering it can possibly be. Whether you’re the CEO of the coffee cart or just a really lucky bacon-eating dog.
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