It was 5:30 pm in Valparaiso, Indiana. We were 2 hours into a 7 hour drive. I needed wanted coffee, and we all decided to get food. We opted for the lowest common denominator fast-food restaurant.
The girl at the counter was talking with another worker as we approached. As she turned to us, I carried on the conversation she had been having about whatever it was. She laughed. I asked if the coffee was fresh. She said that she could start a new pot, ready in 2 minutes.
We all ordered. The order was filled by yet another cheerful person. We got the napkins and straws and the rest of my family got their cold drinks. I went back to the counter to wait for the coffee. The second cheerful person verified that everything was set except for my coffee.
And then a young man popped up in front of me, handed me a cup of coffee and said, “fresh from the hills of Columbia” with earnestness and good will. I laughed and thanked him and took the coffee and we walked out. Andrew, our 21-year-old, heard the comment too. He has tremendous empathy for food servers, working in retail himself. But this, this was amazing. It was worthy of comment by both of us.
“Fresh from the hills of Columbia.” It was wacky. It was like a commercial of some sort. (I was waiting for Juan Valdez to show up). And yet it was this kid’s effort on a Friday evening at supper rush to provide great service.
It worked. I’m still smiling.