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“Goooood morning! I’m Wade, and I’m having a fantastic morning here at Starbucks! What can I get started for you today?”
I look over at the Starbucks drive-through lane from the Goodwill donation drop-off lane next door where I’m working in my usual hurried pace,
and I see no less than thirty cars in line to give Wade’s surely smiling face
yet another order.
I’ve never seen those who work at the Starbucks drive-through, although so close are we
that their menu I can see.
While I clearly hear the smiles, the pickup window is around a corner, perpendicular to me,
so the attendants’ faces remain invisible from my position. All in particular I see
is a speaker and a long line of cars, all idling with keys in the ignition,
waiting for a turn to order coffee and another trip begin.
Despite all the work awaiting another day’s run, the speaker always sounds so full of great cheer,
and I often wonder how it is done, especially in the early morning as I pull my weight here
to bring into this thrift store next door old furniture and loads of damp discards left in a pile
dumped in this drive-through overnight to be sorted and maybe once again placed for a while.
My morning routine as I look over all these rejected things left here, seeing nothing but their heavy weight, damage, and defects,
is eased just a little as I smile in response to the cheerful speaker next door; it seems so blessedly oblivious
to the line of cars extending out into the road and increasingly impatient.
And at the end of the day sometimes I’ve even heard voices in the speaker joking and singing as I’m bringing the last of it all inside to lock up for the night. I think, “How dead tired am I,
How are the voices in the speaker still chirping as lively as birds at the break of daylight?”
I can’t keep from thinking it can’t possibly be; it doesn’t seem right.
Is it youthful optimism behind this impenetrable happiness and unwaveringly positive attitude?
Or is it brainwashing to blame for this refusal to respond in kind to those in cars getting impatient and rude?
So one day I made a mission to go into the coffee shop and see the faces of those voices that I hear through the uniformly cheerful speaker.
And as I suspected, they mostly looked as tired as me, albeit younger - not particularly joyous, but not forlorn or tearful, either.
I said to a counter attendant, “I work in the donation drive-through next door, and not to sound creepy,
but your voices through the drive-through speaker are a real pick-me-up in my morning routine.
Surely you know how much work is ahead, yet you never sound tired nor discouraged,
and I wish to express my appreciation for it.”
In return, the counter attendant replied,
“We know who you are because, although the window is around the corner, perpendicular to the drive-through line,
invisible to you,
our speaker has a camera facing the line, and your drive-through is in its view.
Although we cannot hear you, we see you, and you never seem to tire as you push unwieldy furniture from 1981 to a new place today;
You lift as light feathers each trunk-full after trunk-full of trash bags relentlessly dropped as dead weights, as though you simply do not feel all the work dumped your way!”
And after getting my drink I left with more questions than when I arrived,
Thinking about hearing the sounds in the speakers, and about how happy the speakers probably aren’t in their own eyes
and about how in their camera they can only see how strong
I probably am not.
For if they could hear my cussing and mumbled profanities on a day-to-day basis, they’d surely see I’m rather weak,
And if I could see their faces as they speak, I’d surely hear they, too, have days of weather bleak.
But as we go about, I suppose we lift each other in our own ways and positions, some with our actions and some with our voices,
and I can only hope the drive-through attendants next door may sometimes be as joyous
as they make believe they are in the speaker, while I pray that I may sometimes be
as strong as through my neighbor’s silent camera my shoulders often seem.
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