It was a hot day, the kind of hot day in the South Bay that slowly bakes you from the inside out. I was sitting in Starbuck’s at Target waiting for my daughter, watching people come and go, most of them in a rush, some annoyed. I don’t know why so many people are in a rush and annoyed nowadays. I don’t buy the technology answer or that people are bombarded with so much more information/obligations/choices than they were in the past. They’re obviously pressured by the many things they have to do or think they have to do, but who’s making them do it? At the time, I didn’t have anything to do, so I just sat there, watching people. I like it that way. It’s not that I don’t have work and obligations, it’s just that I’ve learned that running around only does one thing: wears out your shoes.
So, there I was, sipping my iced, peach green-tea and minding my own business when a mother and her son got on line at Starbuck’s (I say “on line” because I am from New York. If you’re not from New York, read “in line,” which reminds me of skating, but that’s another story). The kid had Down’s Syndrome and was about fifteen. He insisted that his mother stand well behind him at a distance of about ten feet, which she did. He moved up the line, holding his cash in his hand and waiting eagerly to give his order. At one point, his mother got a little too close for his liking, so he turned around and directed her to stand back, telling her that he could do it all by himself. She obliged and gave him space. When it was his turn, he gave his order, answered “chocolaty-chip!” in response to a question about vanilla or chocolate, and then gave his name in a loud voice, “Nate!” Then he stood guard at the little barista counter, waiting for his whipped drink, practically shaking in anticipation.
The joy on Nate’s face when he was handed his frappuccino was so incredible that I got a big grin on my own face. It also contrasted with the tired, rushed expressions on most everyone else around him. He could hardly take his eyes off the whipped cream sitting atop the drink and covered in that little plastic dome they put on it. His mother had to help him out of the store or I’m sure he would have walked into something.
Here’s the thing: Nate got it right, so much so that I want to be like him. I want to savor a whipped frappuccino and everything else in life that is a wonder. It’s the way we’re supposed to be living, were meant to be living, and were created to be living. How wonderful is that? Maybe we don’t need 90-inch TV screens and 500 channels. Maybe what we really need is the ability to appreciate a chocolaty-chip frappuccino and people to share it with. As they also say in New York, “just sayin…”