One month into steady work at Starbucks, and it turns out to be another page for the decades! I’ve met some great people, and I’ve learned about a whole world’s worth of even more characters in The City of Los Angeles.

Just what they’re all going to teach me will take more time to tell, but what I can say for now is that the stories of this latest cast of characters will move others as they’ve moved me. They are the stories of an absolutely integral part of L.A., whose contribution to the city’s movement subtly but aptly defy the barriers of class which seem to separate so many of us.

Put simply, the people who work some of the toughest jobs in L.A. are the same ones who earn the least bit of money for their time, and yet there’s something about their acceptance of ‘a small part’ that makes them bigger than their time or earnings. After all, what are millions of small parts combined? They are a ‘critical mass’, who move the city one grocery bag and frappuccino at a time.

They connect us to one another, even if only for a few minutes of the day, where even if only for a moment, our lives come together in the community we so often idealize rather than put into practice when we’re faced with the opportunity to do so.

At Starbucks, I have that opportunity. I can either welcome a customer to the store with warmth, or I can greet them passively, depending on how the day is going. In truth, I’m still learning, particularly from the way the other baristas approach the craft.

Everyone has a different approach to work, and it’s fascinating to observe the subtle qualities which distinguish each individual on the team. Underneath every smile and joke is a philosophy about the world, and it’s a philosophy rooted in a lifetime of experiences much different from my own, yet similar enough for me to acknowledge.

At the end of the day, only one thing is clear: every human being is scaling a mountain of themselves. Every one of them is climbing through their own fears, and contending with their own doubts about how to get through the world.

Somewhere along the way, we meet each other through this, and at least for yours truly: it makes for a wonderful glimpse at other mountains, where there lie other failures, triumphs, and lessons to learn from as I continue with my own scaling.

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