The Starbucks on Clark has a long counter along the window with industrial metal stools. It’s all very hipster.
You can sit and look out at one of the trendiest corners around while listening to jazz and the swoosh of the espresso machine. The line is long and addictive irritation looms, people needing their early morning fix. The barista is alone and clearly not by design, he’s doing his best.
A white haired man is at the long window counter and appears to be looking at the beautiful bodies walking by headed to the beach on this nearly perfect “summer in Chicago” Sunday. He has a navy blazer on with tan pants and polished black shoes. His button shirt is tucked but no tie and he has a tan fisherman’s hat, the kind you might expect a lure hanging from.
His gaze seems transfixed and I don’t blame him.
As the line grows the barista walks away from his machines and around to the front, past the angry line of us. With a coffee and food in his hands the frustration ratchets up significantly.
The barista walks over to the man in the window and then in a big voice begins to tell the man exactly what he’s put in front of him and where it is. The barista takes the mans hand and gives him a straw. Only then did I notice his white stick and realized his gaze is always fixed regardless of who’s walking by.
The entire line observed this blind man take his time determining the location of the hole his straw should go into. The Barista runs back and grabs one more thing for blind man, this time without as much shame for making us all wait. It’s clear this made him feel better. It’s clear observing this made us all feel better.
The man tried to pay and the barista said, “Man, we got you”.
“Imagine walking along a sidewalk with your arms full of groceries, and someone roughly bumps into you so that you fall and your groceries are strewn over the ground. As you rise up from the puddle of broken eggs and tomato juice, you are ready to shout out, ‘You idiot! What’s wrong with you? Are you blind?’ But just before you can catch your breath to speak, you see that the person who bumped into you is actually blind. He, too, is sprawled in the spilled groceries, and your anger vanishes in an instant, to be replaced by sympathetic concern: ‘Are you hurt? Can I help you up?’ Our situation is like that. When we clearly realize that the source of disharmony and misery in the world is ignorance, we can open the door of wisdom and compassion.” ~ Alan Wallace