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The Small Things in Life

I was standing in line at Starbucks, waiting for people to order their half-caf, skinny, three pump, upside down, long shot, extra hot, tall (which really means small) customized drinks.  

An older man was waiting in front of me. His hair was white. His face was wrinkled. He walked with a cane. When it was his turn, he shuffled toward the barista, steadying his balance by placing his hands on the counter. He leaned in and squinted at the board. He explained he was ordering for his wife, who was waiting in the car. The barista was patient and kind, helping him think through the different choices for size, milk preference, coffee style and flavor additions. The man decided on a tall, hazelnut cappuccino with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. The barista wrote these options on his cup and then asked the man, “And… last question, what’s the name for your drink?”

The man paused and tapped his chin. “Oh, I didn’t know you did this. This is a fun part!” he said. The barista looked confused, holding a black Sharpie next to the man’s cup and giving him an “I’m-being-patient-but-also-there-is-a-long-line-of-people-behind-you” kind of smile.

“I’ve got it!” The man snapped his fingers. “I’ll call it ‘I’m nuts about you’ since it’s for my lovely wife and it’s hazelnut flavored.” He laughed at his own clever joke. The barista grinned and wrote it on the cup.

Overhearing this conversation, I smiled. The other busy people standing in line with laptops and briefcases and stacks of paper looked up from their phones and smiled, too. A few minutes later, we heard “I’m nuts about you” called out from the pickup area. 

Seneca once said, “Life is long if you know how to use it.” I like recalling the way this man amused a group of preoccupied, under-caffeinated people inside a Starbucks one morning – the way he personalized a special drink for the person he loves and showed us what it looks like to make the small things in life a little taller.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.