A Helping Hand From The Coffee Shop Girl

I am a big fan of coffee. Which is related to my love of coffee shops. As a result, I do spend a lot of time drinking coffee and hangin’ out in coffee shops. Many hilarious, captivating, and unique one-handed experiences have unfolded while I was just “chillin’ like Bob Dylan” in a coffee shop. Blog #22 of “40 Blogs in 40 days about 40 Podcasts” is about one of those moments. However, this is not some quirky Q&A conversation with a 5 year old about the ins-and-outs of a life with one hand. Nor was this an accidental “two-handed” slip of the tongue in conversation leading into an awkward moment to be transformed into humor. No, this was not the case at all. This was a something much more subtle and more deeply profound.

coffee, espresso, barista, Java Hyde Park, Boise, North End, black and white photography

AlejAndro Sensei and the 3 Shapes Aikido crew would go to Java Hyde Park in Boise, Idaho after Saturday morning practices to enjoy coffee, conversation, and each other’s company. Photo by Ted Harmon.

It was a day like any other day at the Java Hyde Park coffee shop in the historic “North End” neighborhood of Boise, Idaho. The place was packed with people sitting, drinking coffee, eating, and waiting for their java “bowl of soul.” The moment was alive and active in that pre-work kind of way. It was early morning and the line was long. I waited patiently as one of my favorite baristas was taking orders. I was a bit more tired than usual and I think it showed. I live in my martial art school called 3 Shapes Aikido. It is the local dojo here in the “North End.” I taught classes for kids, teens and adults the prior night. After class I worked with some advanced students on weapons training and techniques dealing with multiple person attacks and I was feeling quite sore. As I stood there looking around I realized I was still half asleep because the person behind me had to ask me to move forward. As I caught up with the line I saw my favorite barista would serve me.

There were many reasons beyond her simple beauty and my attraction to her that appealed to my interest in having her take my order. More importantly, she was a very nice person. She was kind, considerate, and polite. Her cordial demeanor and pleasant smile paired with the service of a fine “cup of joe” always made my morning just right. Our enjoyable rapport was layered with well-mannered requests and responses with an occasional body gesture of appreciation. My turn was next and I wanted to be as ready as possible so not to lose any communication time looking for my cash. As I tried to reach for my wallet I realized my hand and arms were full.

Barista, coffee shop, coffee, disability, one hand, blog, storytelling

When AlejAndro hand and arms are full, just being offer a cup of coffee to grab can make for a peculiar situation.

For most people this may not always be a problem. But when you were born with one hand this kind of thing comes up a lot. I had my workbag around my shoulder, I was carrying some large documents under my left arm, (that is the arm with no hand) and I was holding my phone. Life with one hand has many benefits. However, carrying stuff is not one of them. If my one hand is occupied it is hard to do other activities. Such as walking, drinking a cup of coffee and trying to answer my phone; or drinking a beer and trying to hold my girlfriend’s hand. If I had to choose I would choose to hold hands. My point is I have to choose. It’s not like I can hold a cup of coffee in one hand and hold my girlfriend’s hand with my other hand.

over-burdened, one hand, carrying, disability, bicycle

Sometimes AlejAndro’s one-handed life can feel over-burdened when carrying too many things.

I have learned countless ways to get many things accomplished and have attained numerous goals in my one-handed life. I am in no way expressing any frustration. I am just setting the scene for what was about to happen. When it was my turn the barista took my order as we exchanged our usual playful communiqué. She noticed I was “off my one-handed game” a bit as I was now shuffling things around trying to put my wallet away. As soon as my wallet found my pocket she handed me my coffee. I was about to take a drink when she offered the debit card receipt to be signed by holding and sliding it across the counter. She saw me look around as I was deciding how to manage my one-handed moment. As I went to put my coffee down to reach for a pen she finished her slide of the receipt by letting it go. Since the receipt was from the end of the roll it immediately curled over itself. She was watching me as I paused trying to deduce this next and most peculiar one-handed situation. What happened next stopped me in my place. Her profoundly considerate and deeply sincere and simple gesture of thoughtfulness left me stunned in a momentary state of eternity. But what made it so special was the quality and intention in her motion. It is a moment and a gesture I have never forgotten. And one I will always appreciate.

To listen to the story of what she did and what happened next I invite you to click and listen to my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS029. Please feel free to share this blog or my podcast and I ask you to offer a comment with your opinion and feedback! Thanks!

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