Turning Lemons into...Cafe con Leche

Not today. Uh uh. It's a beautiful South Florida morning, a cool 65 degrees and I am NOT going to let the surly owner of the nearby convenience store screw it up. No sir. Or as they say here in Miami, no señor!

First, some background and I say this with certainty: Miami has the worst newspaper delivery service in the country. And I mean worst. We've subscribed and cancelled our papers I'm guessing about ten times over the last two years because the delivery men and women just aren't capable of getting the newsprint to our doorstep.

So I've succumbed. I'm reading the news digitally but I'm old school at heart. I yearn to turn real, honest to goodness pages while I sip my coffee--not scroll.

Sorry for the rant, back to my story. On Saturdays I treat myself to the print edition of the Wall Street Journal. The closest place to pick up a copy is at the before mentioned convenience store.

Without exception, when I bring my paper to the counter the owner scowls and says nothing. He makes a a weird rubbing of his fingers gesture, like where's my money. Not hello. Not good morning. Not that'll be 4 dollars and certainly not, Have a Nice Day.
Ay Caramba!

As a therapist I have empathy. I understand that what I see on the outside often reflects some sort of inner turmoil, not simply rudeness; there could be trouble at home, a sick family member, financial problems. But when I walk through these 24-hour fast-food glass doors my empathy is no where to be found.

I find myself steeling up--waiting for Mr. Pain-in-the-Neck to do his thing.

But today something new is in the air. Literally in the air. It's the aroma. Yum, I love that smell, and like a laser I home in on something new behind the counter. It's polished and shiny! It's a silver cylinder! It's causing my heart to beat faster! It's a commercial grade high-end Cuban coffee machine!

I rush the counter like I've got the ball on the five yard line.

"Alright! You got a coffee machine! Can you make me a cafe con leche?" I say with a perkiness I've never felt in this once dreaded store.

For the first time he smiles. The owner, proud of his new purchase, is beaming along with me.

I'm thrilled. Five minutes later I've got my Wall Street Journal, a large cafe con leche and an actual human interaction that doesn't leave me feeling empty.

If this were a Hollywood script we know the ending: Surly owner and I would become great friends. I'd look forward to Saturday mornings. We'd banter and somehow that great divide, the chasm between our lives would narrow and we'd evolve into our truer, better selves-- just from knowing each other.

Here's the reality. I walk into the store on Saturday mornings, the owner now looks at me with a hint of recognition, the scowling a little less intense. And when I ask for my cafe con leche he actually speaks. Well, kinda.

"Remember, It's $3.25!" he barks.

Ok. I can live with that.