A Cup of Knowledge

Downtown Los Angeles; Los Angeles Street

A lady came into Starbucks today, and she was so sweet. She asked for the cheapest tea that I could give her, which was priced at $1.75.

It was more than she could afford.

She then smiled, and asked for just a cup of water, which sure enough, our Starbucks has recently started pricing at $0.25 cents.

As she handed me two dimes and a handful of pennies, she said something I didn’t expect.

“It’s because I need a boyfriend to support me ya know,”

“I hear you,” I replied instinctually, as I met her smile with my own and took her change into the register.

But that’s when she said something really interesting, as she looked at me and asked:

“Will you be my boyfriend?,”

I chuckled, and looked at her then. She was probably in her mid to late forties, and had an orangish-red complexion. Her hair was thin and dyed, and she had freckles around a small, pointy nose. I guess she must have been of mixed heritage, perhaps somewhere in between white and Native American.

And thinking about it now, I’m sure she broke quite a few hearts before we met at Starbucks. She had a charm to her, and was obviously aware of it. But we were from two different lifetimes, and being at work, I could only receive her question as a playful one. So I smiled again and said “Maybe on the low key,”

I felt a tinge of self-awareness as I said this, immediately just wanting to get to the next customer before I started blushing. But the sweet lady stood there for another moment and lingered on her playful question:

“Low-key then, right?”

Once again, I smiled, and replied that her drink would be on the side.

The whole thing lasted just a minute or so, but I would think about it again later in the afternoon.

With just twenty-five cents to spare, the sweet lady was obviously down on her luck at the time, yet her playful question brought something else to mind.

In this world, which is so dominated by the cha-ching noise in the background, we don’t actually need a whole lot of money to get by; what we need far more is each other. It might sound sappy and cliche, but as human beings, all we really need to get by is…well, other human beings who get us!

After all, at the end of the day, the register is just a machine, as money is just the fuel the machine runs on. But when the running is done and all that’s left is our humanity, what counts is what we do for each other. In turn, I hope I made a good impression on the sweet lady today, but just to be sure, next time her tea is on me.


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Born and raised in the Los. Los Cuentos. J.T.

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