When I was nineteen I dropped out of school, sold what little stuff I had and moved to California to start an illustrious career as a barista. I was broke, lonely and lost. I was also free. No friends. No family. No obligations—except getting to work at 6 AM each day to open the coffee shop.
I took my job seriously. It was all I really had going on. I liked being there among the other recent California transplants and art students. They were slightly off and so was I. Life was just as it should be at such a young age.
I made minimum wage but I really worked for tips. I was amazed at the simple equation—I was friendly to people and they’d toss money in the jar. There was one regular in particular that would stop in early, order a small coffee to go and leave me a dollar—roughly a 95% tip for handing him a paper cup and telling him to have a good day.
Memories of my life twenty years ago came flooding back this morning when I stopped by a small coffee stand on my way to work. The ladies running things were welcoming but not over the top. I ordered a simple cup of coffee, paid with cash and without thinking twice tossed a dollar in the tip jar. Smiling as I walked away, I felt good about life, the process of growing up and the fact that I had a dollar to spare for a kid that’s probably broke, lost and lonely.