It is one of those mornings that nothing is going right. It is really cold outside, I’m having a bad hair day, the head scarf I’m trying to put on is not cooperating and I am late for an appointment with a friend in town. I like to keep time, I pride myself in that. I definitely wear it like a badge of honor and I am usually quick to scold anyone who can’t make it to where they are supposed to be in good time, my friends can attest to this, sorry not sorry. If we are to meet at 8 am, I will try to be there by 7:55 am. So forgive me if I don’t understand the ‘pathological’ late comers. Anyway, I need coffee to jumpstart my system into optimum functioning otherwise I will look like a zombie the whole day. I walk into a restaurant along the way to the rendezvous point. The waiter approaching my table has this beaming smile that is almost eccentric because his teeth are so white in comparison to his dark ashy skin and black tailored uniform, complete with a black bowtie.
“It is 7 o’clock in the morning, what could he possibly be so happy about?” I wonder.
He keeps humming this joyful tune that I can’t place. See, I’m a bit irritable because I am going to be late and for the love of the universe, where is my damn coffee? His tag reads Joe.
“Sasa Joe? A black coffee, no sugar. Make it extra strong,” I blurt out even before he has a chance to reply to my greeting.
I have just about 5 minutes to spare. He doesn’t look that surprised at my lack of mere human decency in the form of some courtesy, I didn’t even say please and it’s like I did not accord the man the time of day. If he was surprised, he did a good job at masking it or he’s probably used to it. He disappears behind the high counter to fix my daily drug; scalding hot, bitter coffee, just the way I like it. I take in every sip relishing the effect the precious liquid has on awakening my brain. Every single drop is magical. Joe comes to hand me my bill and he is still smiling. His jaw is probably unhinging from all that smiling. Isn’t he finding it strenuous?
“Have a good day madam,” he tells me as I leave and gets back to his tune.
I can’t stop thinking of Joe even after I leave, slowly, I find myself humming the same tune. I don’t know the song, but heck! When I get to my appointment, my friend points out how happy I seem. Apparently, I look radiant. The coffee has definitely kicked in and I have to attribute most of the joy I am feeling to being infected by Joe.
Yes, he literally infused joy into my life that morning!
The menu should have read coffee and some happiness at 100 Ksh.
Later that day even when I got back home I kept wondering, was he truly happy or was it just a facade? You know, appear happy for the customers. Appearing calm and collected, and being polite is what I think is required when dealing with customers. But happy to the point of making one’s miserable morning turn into a tolerable one and eventually a joyful day, I don’t think so. It still bugs me up to this day, was Joe really, truly happy beneath that enchanting smile? Boy, I have never seen teeth so white before, just immaculate! That doesn’t really matter because what people saw was how happy he was in his own little bubble and was unbothered by the outside. No one saw the pain, the hurt, the disappointment or the struggles he was facing. We didn’t see the demons he was slaying. We only saw that beautiful, captivating smile and the dance in his step. We only saw what he allowed us to see.
So, I decided to serve myself some happiness from the menu each day. You can draft your own menu and serve yourself some love, joy, kindness, peace, forgiveness and whatever else you need for your wellbeing. Do you need some healing or strength to carry on? How about some discipline or honesty? Well, it’s up for grabs.
What’s on your menu today?