Do you ever wake up and you’re just in a bad mood? For no apparent reason? Maybe the day before you were on top of the world and today, before you even open your eyes, you feel miserable?
I woke up in pain this morning, a muscle spasm in my shoulder, my neck stiff from staring down at an espresso bar for six hours yesterday, but it’s more than that. It’s a sort of defeatist, what’s the point? attitude that goes along with that downer of a mood. You’re lonely. No one cares. No one’s interested. You don’t want to do anything because after all, what’s the point?
I don’t know what causes these mood swings. Hormones? Something I ate? My mind playing tricks on me? I don’t always know what to do to make it go away except to slog on through the day and hope I feel better tomorrow.
Yesterday at work a customer who moved away from the area four years ago came into the store. She said it was nice to see a familiar face. I remembered her, though not her name. She used to come in every morning. I enjoyed seeing her, but somehow seeing her made me feel old. Older than I usually feel. Like I’m stagnating. I’m not moving forward. I’m not selling my work. I’m still waiting on “my” editor to get back to me on something she’s had for six months. Six months! Yep, I’m feeling pretty special right about now. I write something unique and different and the entire manuscript is requested by a top level editor. She’d like to buy it, but it’s a little too unique and different. So, I’m going nowhere.
Stack that on top of what’s happened to the economy and the fallout we’ve personally experienced due to that, my family abandonment issues, oh wait, I think I might be getting a clue as to why I woke up in a bad mood today.
You can sit there and tell yourself many things such as you should count your blessings, there are many people worse off than you and God loves you. But you know what? Even doing or knowing all of that, doesn’t immediately change the way you feel. Sometimes I think we’re entitled to our bad moods. Sometimes I want to wallow in my misery for a little while. Maybe it makes me appreciate more those days I don’t wake up in a bad mood. So for today—keep your distance and don’t talk to me.
On a final note, in regard to annoying people who walk into Starbucks, there is a guy, I don’t know what his deal is, but I grit my teeth every time he approaches the counter. I’ve heard various stories about him. That he’s homeless, or unemployed. Unemployed I can believe, but he doesn’t look homeless. He’s too clean to be homeless. He rides a bicycle that looks like it’s in pretty good shape. He’s Eastern European, maybe, with a heavy accent and can barely make himself understood. I see other of his native countrymen occasionally sitting with him and sometimes they buy him something to drink, because one thing I do know: this guy never appears to have any money.
If you make the mistake of sitting outside on a break anywhere near him, he’ll start talking to you like he knows you. If you’re a young pretty girl, he’ll try to get you to be his girlfriend. He’s probably harmless, but I think he’s a little nuts. Or maybe a little desperate to connect with another human being. Thinking that now, I’m thinking I should try a little harder to be kind to him when he comes in. He never buys anything. He always wants a cup of water. Some of the kinder Starbucks partners will throw him a free cup of coffee. And once upon a time they’d give him a sandwich at the end of the night if it was headed to the garbage anyway. But then he’d make a mess all over the table and leave the packaging there for us to clean up, which we didn’t appreciate, so we stopped doing that.
But yesterday he came in. He stands at the end of the counter and I literally have to force myself to go wait on him. I stand halfway away and ask him what he wants. He wants water. So I go make him a cup, ask him if he wants ice, but I have to ask him twice because I don’t think he understands the question. I don’t give him a straw or put a lid on the cup, because that’s my payback to him for not buying anything and expecting something for nothing. Water. Just a cup of water. And I wonder why I’m so small and petty in dealing with another human being. Why do I care so much? Why does he bother me? I give him his water with ice and I don’t make eye contact because I don’t like him and off he goes.
I say something to the shift supervisor about him and I remember something my dad used to always say. There but for the grace of God go I. And I think, someday that could be me. Asking for a cup of water and receiving nothing but contempt from the one grudgingly giving it to me.
I think of what Jesus said: When I was hungry you gave me food. When I was thirsty you gave me a drink. If you did this for the least of my brothers, you did it for me.
I know there’s a lesson there. That’s probably why this guy keeps showing up. To try and teach us the lesson whatever it is. Compassion. Kindness. He’ll keep making an appearance until we learn it. I think of the example of someone else who works at my store, who never seems to have a problem with this guy, the one who gives him a cup of coffee for free. I should learn more from his example.
I always say being kind costs us nothing. Why can’t I behave that way?