She practices Starbucks etiquette as well as she slings coffee. She’s never asked my name—as a drive thru patron, there’s no need—but she lights up every time we roll through because she knows us. She even peeps behind my husband and I to spread a little morning sunshine with her bright smile to our girls in the back seat.
After she had learned that I taught across the street at the school on the corner, it didn’t take long for some random Starbucks treats to start showing up in our staff room every now and then—pastries, coffee boxes, prepackaged foods, and even 50+ full-sized cartons of their chilled lattes once. I would like to believe it’s all because of her.
When I asked her one day what her name was, she was genuinely surprised, and her smile grew even brighter. She had scribbled countless names on cups day after day, but I doubt, by the twinkle in her eyes when I did inquire, that it’s likely no one receiving the honor of having their name f*cked up on purpose would ever bother to ask what her name was in return.
She doesn’t know it yet, and may not ever know, but I’ve begun to build a protagonist around her for a novel that I had started structuring back in December set in a coffee house. Although the character I will create is going to be unique and suited for the story I am penning, she will most definitely embody my favorite barista’s characteristics—buttery, brown eyes, dark strawberry blonde hair, a smile stretched from East to West with contagious joy, and, of course, her name will be Jessica.
Writing101: A Character Study–Write about someone intriguing that you’ve met in the last year.