A Little Love at Starbucks

Starbucks store Pioneer Square Seattle

Starbucks store in Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA

I saw the most beautiful act of love at Starbucks last Friday morning. I wish you had seen it too.

The Starbucks is at the corner of Yesler and 1st Ave., in the heart of Pioneer Square in Seattle. The surrounding area is a mishmash of business offices, missions serving the homeless, co-working spaces, art galleries, restaurants and a whole lot more. It was quite early in the morning when I arrived, and the clientele at Starbucks that morning was as eclectic as the neighborhood it calls home.

A young woman opened the door for me with a gracious smile then walked in to join the short line of people waiting to order. I took my place behind her and immediately noticed a man standing right of us gesturing in a very pronounced way at a bakery item in the display case. It took me a second to understand that he was mute, and the server was having a difficult time making out what he wanted. She stepped away, presumably to get some help.

While waiting, the man looked around and saw the young woman ahead of me who was just about to order. Without hesitation, he deliberately gave her a hearty bump, then stood closely, looking at her. I waited for her response, wondering what would happen next.

A Wonderful Surprise

To my absolute surprise and delight, she turned towards the gentleman, and beaming another beautiful smile, she made a hand gesture where she pointed two fingers at her eyes then turned her fingers to point at his eyes, and then pointed back at her own eyes again, as if to say: “I see you.” The man’s whole countenance lit up at the exchange, as did hers. I felt my own heart open at the simple beauty of their whole-hearted connection.

It was over in an instant. A new person arrived to help the man. The line progressed. We all returned to our regularly scheduled programming. While waiting for our drinks to be made at the other end of the counter, I asked the young woman if she spoke sign language. She said that she did not, but she was learning from her sister. She mentioned that she, and other members of the staff at this Starbucks—were learning sign language so they could communicate with the mute—and presumably deaf—gentleman, who is a regular customer of theirs. My heart opened even wider.

Life can be that simple and that beautiful when we look up from our devices, set aside our to-do lists and summon the courage to genuinely see and connect with each other. Those micro-moments of connection—what Barbara Fredrickson calls a shared moment of positivity resonance—inspire us to care about and for each other.

What Connections Will You Create Today?

How about you? Do you create connections or just engage in transactions? Do you need to learn someone else’s language in order to connect with them? Perhaps the language of your teenager, or a team member from a different department or your neighbor who was raised in a different culture or country?

We are all capable of creating these little gems of connection. We just need to choose to see each other.

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