Philz Feels

This is a story about Kevin.

Kevin is a barista at Philz Coffee in Downtown San Jose, across the street from SJSU. This particular Philz always has a line trailing out the door and people expect a wait. Not only expect it but are willing to wait. Without complaint, without frustration, with acceptance and with patience. What a rare phenomenon to witness, especially on a day like Black Friday where the air is frantic with desperate hastiness and sleep deprivation. Get the sale. Buy the stuff. Buy more stuff. Get the coffee. Drink the coffee. Buy more stuff. Exhausted and about to crash but hey, at least I got the stuff.

I stood in line with a friend and her daughter and we swapped ideas about what delicious concoction we would order. She committed to a warm chai. Immediate thoughts of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg danced around in my head, my mouth salivating with anticipation. I too, would order the chai. But I was nervous. I used to work for Philz Coffee, so the awareness around how to make a cup of love, in their various forms, was no secret to me. Ordering the chai was risky. The outcome was as randomized as the barista that would call you up to order.

My high expectations often left me frustrated when it came time to take a sip. I decided that today would be different and that I would get the chai. That I would let go of my need to try and control every situation and allow the outcome, whatever it might be.

My drink took longer than usual to hit the counter but I was enjoying the company and not concerned with how much time had passed. "Large chai at the bar!" leaked from the door to the outside table we were at. My chai was ready. I walked up to grab my drink and before I could say anything he apologized for how long it took. "I have to be honest. I made the chai and tried it and I didn't like it. Chai's are tricky and they need just the right balance so I made it again. I hope you like it. Give it a try."

That chai was the best I ever had and I knew why. Not because I dropped my expectation, though that helped. Not because of the ingredients in the drink, though a necessary part. What made the drink exceptional was the amount of love that went into making it. He cared and it made all the difference. Kevin, you made all the difference.

I left with a tasty drink but more importantly, I left with good feelings inside. Everything that we do, everything that we say, everything that we are, is a ripple effect. Seeping into what's around us, dispersing into our veins and filling us up.

If we choose to care, it makes all the difference.