It’s not really about the coffee. . .

I love Starbucks – I have journeyed through many a Starbucks and have landed at the quintessential drink for my taste — chai tea with soy milk, no water, no foam with nutmeg on top. It’s heavenly! Thank you, Jamie, for the recommendation. No matter where I am I can order that drink and all is right . . . OK, some things are right.

Last week I was in a Starbucks in Memphis and the girl at the counter asked my name. Then she said, “Chai soy, for Celia no water, no foam.” When my drink was ready, I heard “here’s your chai tea, Celia.” They got it right. They called me by name and instantly I felt connected to them. One of the things we want most is to be remembered (as my friend Billy reminds me).

I was visiting the Starbucks location in my hometown. (If any Starbucks is going to know my name, it should be this one.) I have been in here several times since they opened (I actually got there first — I ate at the meat and three in that location, BEFORE Starbucks even looked at the place.) Once again they asked my name and I waited for my drink. They also asked the name of the guy behind me–it was Bob and he was having the coffee of the week. While he and I waited, I said hey to Bob. Then the server said those words I love to hear, “Chai Tea for Celia” She handed me my drink, but she did not look me in the eye. OK–it was a little gesture, but it represented something much bigger. People who really know me, look me in the eye. I was ushered back to reality by that small, negligent act. They don’t know me! They don’t remember me. No matter how many times I show up and they call my name, they just don’t know me. Starbucks can use my name, but they don’t know me. Of course I’ll keep going to Starbucks; but make no mistake, it’s for the Chai tea.

Merridees, the bakery down the street also serves coffee. The minute I walk in the door, I could be on the Cheers show. The guys from the telephone company are there and I know their names. They gave Max a hard hat with his name one it. These people not only know my name, but also my children’s names. Folks there ask where I have been, where I am going and how I am doing. The manager comes from behind the counter and hugs my neck as she wipes down tables. She smiles like an angel. As I sit with my friends, we talk about life — basketball, music, the weather, news from the front page and things we should’ve invented. When I am not there, I miss them. I could go on, but you get the picture. More than my name, they know me.

When I am home on a Sunday, my church reminds me why I belong there. People call my name because they know me. I am re-member-ed (put back together), when I am in community. I need that, maybe we all need that. I sometimes believe what I am sold, but I know the difference. I am fed by real connections. There is something so simple and pure about a name. It is even better than perfect every time chai tea. You cannot beat plain-old feed-your-soul rich connection. Be on the look out and when you find it — drink it up. It is Holy (set apart) and God is there.

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

1 thought on “It’s not really about the coffee. . .”

  1. Hey Cel…I have told this story a hundred times since I read it (well, maybe not a HUNDRED)

    And I went a little overboard on the Chai Tea lattes (with Soy…AND love the foam!) but now
    I’m burned out a bit…but they are good…like dessert.

    But Starbucks is certainly no Miller’s…

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