When I left the Texas Panhandle, an area I had known my entire life, to start a new job in Juneau, Alaska, I was terrified and excited at the same time. It wasn’t an easy transition, but eventually I found a basic principle in getting in good with my new co-workers.
I didn’t even know how to work a coffeepot when I arrived in wet and overcast Juneau. I was always first to arrive at the office, and I used my extra time to make my tea, turn on my computer and get settled for the day. One morning I was in the office when I heard a co-worker come in and complain about making the coffee. She was cold and wet and all she wanted was a warm cup of coffee. I marched to the back of the office where the break station was and asked her to show me how to make the concoction.
What I liked most about the process was that grinding the beans left the smell of coffee on my hands. It smelled like home to me. Although my grandma, Rosemary, wasn’t a coffee drinker, she loved the smell. I remember days when she would boil coffee on the stove just so her house would take the aroma. I learned to love that smell, as well, even though I took after her in my tea drinking. When I first noticed the lingering smell of coffee on my hands, it somehow pulled at me. I remember my grandma making coffee for her friends, even though she didn’t like it. It was a simple act of service and friendship.
From that day forward I started making the coffee. As my tea water would warm, I would grind the beans and make the coffee. My co-workers would arrive, one by one, to discover their morning comfort waiting for them. It made a difference in the day and how we worked together. It was the simplest gesture, but it seemed to make a difference. It made them happy.
When I left Alaska to return to Texas to be closer to my ill grandma, it was difficult to leave my co-workers who had become my friends and my family in a place where I first arrived having none.
Only a few months after I returned home, my grandma died. I was left with a hole in my heart. I didn’t know how to feel “normal” again. I started to arrive at work each day to make the coffee. Suddenly I was back in my routine of warming my tea water as I made the coffee. It brought joy to my soul to be able to do something for my co-workers who have done so much for me.
I believe in making the coffee because there’s nothing more fulfilling to me than making someone’s day a bit brighter. I believe that every person deserves to feel special, even if that comes from a simple act of service and friendship.
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