Dear Starbucks Barista,
We got off on the wrong foot. Don’t worry, it’s totally my fault, not yours.
It was my fault when you asked me my name, I had an extremely long pause. You had Starbucks cup and Sharpie in hand, yet I was riding the struggle bus. I paused, awkward laughed, and finally said, “Oh! It’s Annie! I don’t know why I paused, I obviously know my name.”
You just looked at me confused. It was in that moment of my awkwardness and your confusion, I knew our barista-costumer relationship would be different. Sure, from the outside, you’re actually just some random Starbucks barista. You are, however, my favorite Starbucks barista. So this is a letter to you.
I’ve had other baristas, so I can’t really explain why you are my favorite. You’ve never slipped me a free drink or dessert, yet I still feel a connection. It’s a bond that’s greater than any bond free stuff could hold together. Our bond is deeper than that. I walk in, you smile.
We don’t need to dissect our friendship, but I know it’s there.
You are friendly, but not overly friendly. I appreciate that you are not trying too hard. Maybe I should be offended you’ve never hit on me, but I appreciate it. After all, I don’t know your situation or life story. Most importantly, you don’t hassle me about what I’m reading. You give me space.
It was not always that way, of course. One day I walked in holding a book under my arm. Noticing that I am always in there for hours reading random books, you asked me what I am always reading. This is a natural question in the progression of a friendship, but I clamped the book tighter.
“Oh, you know, books.” I shrugged and mentioned something about the weather.
This says more about me than it does about you. I didn’t know yet if I could trust you. It’s like I thought you’d judge me. Our relationship was still somewhat new, so I didn’t want to freak you out. You see, you don’t have the best timing. That day I was reading a book on ministering to Muslim women.
One of my favorite memories is when I realized you didn’t understand my sense of humor. I walked in and ordered my usual drink. You laughed and made a comment about how you should remember by now because I’m always coming in ordering the same thing. I told you, a little too excitedly, “It’s always been my life dream to become a regular at a coffee shop and have a regular drink.”
“Really?” you questioned, seeming somewhat surprised. Were you surprised anyone’s regular drink was a tall iced coffee with just a little soy milk, no sweetener?
I flatly told you no.
Alright, so you don’t get my sarcasm. I am not holding that against you.
But while we are on the topic, there is a bone I have to pick with you. Also, could you explain to me that expression? It’s weird and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Anyway, you are responsible for one of my more embarrassing moments. Yes, you. You are the reason I was rude to someone. You were not working when I came in. Yes, I suppose I understand you deserve days off. I’m just suggesting maybe we could have coordinated our schedules a little better.
So what happened? Since you weren’t working, my friend’s ex-boyfriend took my drink order. I knew who we he was, so I tried to make small talk. Let me just tell you, Favorite Starbucks Barista, I like our small talk better. Since this guy and I had both just graduated college, I made some comment (jokingly, but once again, the humor did not translate) about how he was using his college graduate to work at Starbucks. Yes, it was rude and a little out of place. I am not good at small talk. Favorite Starbucks Barista, if you had just been there, this could have been avoided.
Favorite Starbucks Barista, I am actually writing to apologize. I left without saying goodbye. I knew all summer I would be moving home, but I never came in to say goodbye. I know, it was unfair of me to break off our barista-costumer relationship so abruptly. What we had going was something strong, something real. Now that I live forty minutes from the nearest Starbucks (even though I don’t think it counts because it’s inside a Target), I know I will miss you. I know I am the one missing out.
I was recently back at your Starbucks, and you weren’t there. I don’t know where you are or what you are doing, but I wish you the best. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for handing my drink to me with a smile.
(I don’t know why I paused, I totally know my name.)
P.S. I’ll be back in the Kansas City area in January, let’s try to coordinator better this time. Yes, I’ll probably still order an iced coffee in January.