Monday, May 26, 2014

Military friends

Today is Memorial Day, so it seems appropriate that my "Coffee is a Love Language" story would involve the military men and women with whom I have crossed paths because of coffee.
  I have always had a special spot for military because, 1- I am forever grateful for all they have done for me. I am fascinated by their strength and determination and bravery. And I highly admire each and every position that can be named.  and
   2-my younger brother is a Marine, and thus, I have an even deeper love and appreciation for what they endure and do for our freedom.  Tim has done a couple tours in Iraq/Afghanistan as well as other places, and I am so proud of him.
  I had the privilege to work as a barista right next to an Air Force base, and thus, many military frequented our store.
  To be honest, i can't recall all of or even many of their names.
 I worked hard during that time to understand and learn the ranks so when they would come in, I could properly address them. It was my pleasure to serve countless men and women their coffee.

 A few stories from those days stand out.
    There was Megan. Megan was a young mom, and served in the Air Force. During the time our paths crossed, I knew Megan pregnant and then giving birth, and then I said goodbye to her as she had to do a tour oversees. When Megan returned from that tour, her husband then deployed. Megan was always smiling, in spite of the exhaustion she felt. She was happy to serve our country. She was also happy to come in and treat herself to a coffee and  a place to find a few minutes of quiet and solitude.

 There was Andrea. Andrea was in every Saturday morning with her  boys. She did this to give her husband the morning off to sleep in or do whatever it was he wanted. The three of them would sit up at the coffee bar. Andrea would read the paper and the boys would talk about sports stats and play with their toys. Everyone knew Andrea because she just had that friendly personality.

  Countless others touched my life and crossed my path in that time. Mothers of young children whose spouse was deployed. Men who came in in their uniform, tired, but holding heads high nonetheless. Women who gave up time to serve the country. Countless customers, dressed in uniform, seeking a smile and a slice of quiet in a simple cup of coffee.
   One of my favorite things about being a barista at Starbucks was we had the privilege to give 2 drinks away a day. We had a pass code of sorts we used and we were able to choose whom we wanted. Random surprise and delights, we called it. I loved when I was able to give mine to a military person to say thank you. Such a simple gesture for such huge efforts they do, but sometimes, there are no words to do justice for their acts of service.

 During my time there, I was able to head up a project to love on our overseas soldiers. Customers had the opportunity to "submit" their soldier for our project, and we would feature the soldier with a picture of them and a list of their favorites. We would then collect their favorites over a couple of weeks and send them a loving care package from their neighborhood Starbucks. I loved being in the middle of that. I met Judy, a mother of a soldier and Kim, another mother of a soldier, and we connected as we collected items for their sons who served overseas. I cried in reading some of the letters we collected for those soldiers and felt pure joy at sending them a little piece of home. That project was short lived, but one of my favorite memories of my time as a barista there.

  This is why I say coffee is a love language. It is universally spoken. A cup of coffee bought for another person says more than words can at  times. It may seem silly until you begin to be a witness of its occurrence time and again. I am blessed to have had the privilege to serve coffee to so many ranks and personnel..

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