A Man Named Fred
This past weekend I met a man named Fred at a coffee shop in Salt Lake City.
As soon as Fred sat down next to me, I felt like I was supposed to listen.
Let me start by explaining why this felt so important to me. As I was leaving my friend's apartment and decided I wanted coffee before anything else, I remembered the coffee shop on the corner I have passed multiple times, but have never been to. I looked up coffee shops near me, and they all seemed like good options, but for some reason I was stuck on this one coffee shop. I decided my curiosity will only grow if I don't try it, so I drove the extra mile and went to the coffee shop on the corner I couldn't stop thinking about.
To kind of switch gears here, I haven't done a new fav business on my blog since I have moved back to Utah for a few different reasons, but mostly because some of the places I love here have had some really disappointing customer service. And I understand working a low paying job and just trying to get through the shift, but I also believe that customer service makes or breaks the entire experience of a place.
I remembered thinking as I drove to this coffee shop on the corner, "I really hope this place puts me in a good mood this morning." I was excited for coffee, to try somewhere new, and to see new faces, so they already had a few brownie points when the girl at the counter complimented my eyebrows. Nice touch. She also gave me a coffee recommendation that, not to sound dramatic, was kind of life changing. There was also a guy walking around chatting with customers, handing out lollipops, and making sure everyone was doing okay. That's not something you see very often, and it really made me feel like I had chosen the right place that morning.
And then came Fred, an older man that sat a couple seats down from me. I'm not exactly sure the first thing he said to me, but I felt like I needed to listen. We talked for about 20 or so minutes about life and what he had learned over the years. He asked if I was going to college and I explained no, I'm saving money right now so I can travel before I settle into a full-time job, and was curious what he thought of that. He immediately reassured me that I'm doing the right thing. He explained that he joined the navy because it seemed like a good idea. He wasn't the greatest student, so having the benefit of schooling seemed like the right thing to do. He told me that I have so many options ahead of me by choosing to travel, and not to stress about school.
I have so many issues with our schooling system in America, and I don't want to get carried away here, but one that stresses me out more than anything is the pressure they put on kids to go to college right away. I have wasted thousands of dollars on college tuition, due to the fact I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and I know I am not alone.
I feel like I'm doing the right thing, but what sealed the deal from Fred, was we switched directions and was talking about growing up in a town where there wasn't enough work, so his father moved their family to a different town and started growing potatoes. I instantly had goosebumps, and knew I was 100% there for a reason. My dad who passed away when I was 12 owned a potato harvesting company, so when I heard him say that, I was a little thrown, but that instinct I had to go to that specific coffee shop started to make sense. I felt like it was my dad telling me I'm doing the right thing.
Another thing that caught my attention was when he told me he digs up his change every morning so he can come buy a cup of coffee. Not because he can't make it at home, but because he needs to get out of the house and talk to people like me or else he'll go crazy, which made me thought, maybe I'm here for him too. Maybe I wasn't here so he can teach me life lessons. Maybe I'm here to make his day a little better too.
Time passed a little slower that day, and I reflected a lot. I've had a hard time diving into my deeper thoughts lately, so it was really nice to have some new things to reflect on.
Note to self: follow your instincts, and live for the Saturdays where you meet people like Fred.