Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Saturday, February 11, 2012

That's Her! She's the one who spilled coffee on me

Yes, it was me.  I'm the one who spilled the coffee.  Let me explain.  Please, let me explain.

I have a habit of carrying a Starbucks coffee around with me.  People should probably have an intervention for me about this and my coffee habit in general.  I may have a problem.

Last week, at the mall, just after I had paid for something at Shoppers Drug Mart, I knocked my coffee cup on its side on the counter and the coffee started pouring out.  The cashier righted the cup quickly but some had spilled and, unfortunately, some had spilled on the elderly lady behind me in line.  I apologized, I tried to figure out how to make the situation right, and I left pretty quickly because I couldn't see a way to make it right.  The damage was done.

The lady on whom I spilled the coffee did not react particularly well.  She didn't scream at me or anything but she was upset and my apologies didn't seem to help.  I felt bad enough for the spill and she made me feel worse.  I didn't intend to spill coffee on anyone.  Not that day, anyways.

Out of this incident, I have learned that I should stop carrying coffee around when I'm shopping.  I don't want to spill coffee, or any other beverages, on anyone or anything.  I've also learned something else.

To that lady in line, I am and will always be the woman who spilled the coffee on her.  It doesn't matter what I did before or anything I do after that point in time.  All she knows of me is what she saw in that one brief incident.  I don't think she liked what she saw.

As we go about our lives, we often encounter people who make us angry.  It might be in traffic, in stores, or at the bottom of an escalator when someone or some group can't decide which way they're going.  It is easy to get frustrated and angry with the things people do, and it is easy to define the people by these actions.  It is also easy to forget that there is a lot more to each of these people than what we see in one unfortunate action.

Everyone has a life story, everyone has things on their mind and plans for the day.  We know so little about the people we encounter - what they're up against, what their lives are like, what they dream, what they fear.  It is so wrong to reduce a person to, let's say, the idiot who couldn't figure out what to order at Starbucks.  In reality, I would like to know the story of each person.  I would like to sit down with each of them over coffee, once they figure out what to order, and hear what they have to say.

I am much more than the person who spilled coffee on that lady.  I will try to be tolerant when people do things that irritate me.  A smile that says we're all human, we all do annoying things sometimes, and we're all doing our imperfect best, might help.  And if my smile is not well-received, well, I do know how to spill coffee on people.  Please keep that in mind.


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