A Starbuck's moment: Rejoicing with Don & Amy

It wasn’t quite 6:30 a.m.  Early morning after a restless night, up late reading and awakened two hours later by dreams of Jimmy Carter. Yea.  I know. Fat rain would have ruined even fake Texas hair. Good thing I hadn’t bothered. Living in Oregon has given me a freedom most southern women never enjoy. Pull up the pink hood, trudge through the rain, order the Starbucks and pretend that earthy look of yours is what Julie Roberts is trying to achieve.

The barista brought my drink to me. Carried it over to where I sat in the overstuffed leather chair. This kind of service is what helps define southern hospitality. The guy in the Orange Florida sweatshirt had me so distracted I didn’t know the drink was ready.

“Hi. I’m Don,” he said, standing at the end of the table, next to the other overstuffed chair.

“Hi, Don,” I said. “I’m Karen.”

“I come here every morning,” he said. He didn’t wait for me to say anything else. “My wife she don’t drive, so I drive her everywhere she needs to go. If she needs to get her nails done, or her hair cut, or the grocery store, I take her. I don’t mind. I think that’s what a husband is supposed to do — keep his wife happy. If she ain’t happy nobody is.”

He turned his head toward the gal with the long red hair, standing at the counter.

“Is that your wife?” I asked.


“She has pretty hair.”

“Yes, ” he said, grinning. “She does.” His own hair was clipped close, GI style.

“It’s our anniversary today.”

“Well, congratulations! How many years?”

“Seven. We’ve been married seven years. We met on Ballentimes day.” It wasn’t a speech impediment. That’s just how Don pronounced it.

“Wow! How did you meet?”

“Some friends I work with set us up. I work at the Sheriff’s office. I do janitorial work. Keep the place clean.”

“That’s great. You have some special friends.”

“Yeah,” he said. “I took her a big stuffed bear and a box of chocolates on that first date.”

The redhead returned and introduced herself.

“I’m Amy.”

“Hey, Amy. Congratulations! Don told me it’s your anniversary.”

“Yeah,” she said. “It rained on my birthday, too. My birthday is Feb. 3. Today is my anniversary. I guess it will rain on Ballentimes day, too. I don’t know if that’s a jinx or not.”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” I said.

“Amy works at a day care center,” Don added. “We come to Starbucks every morning. Well, not on Saturday and Sunday but every day but then.”

Routine blankets our lives in comfort, especially on mornings when fat rain falls in the Florida panhandle making it feel ever so much like Oregon.

Except for that personal space thing. Oregonians demand it. Southerners ignore it.

There’s a new pastor out at Milinda’s church. He came in from Yankee country. Said he was standing in line at a groceries or was it a restaurant? I can’t recall and it doesn’t really matter. But he and the missus were talking about something between just the two of them but then someone came up and said, “I overheard what you said and here’s what I think…”

And Pastor stood there, racking his brain and wondering, “Is this someone I should know?”

Southerners, of course, know the answer to that question. How else is the new gal at Starbucks with the wild frizzy hair and faded freckles supposed to know it’s Don and Amy’s anniversary unless they say something?

And what’s the point of life if we can’t celebrate such moments with each other?

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  • Scott Eaton

    Nice piece, Karen. Made my day! But where is the picture of you in the pink hoodie and frizzy hair? That would have been something to see. 🙂

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I was talking about the writer, Scott. 🙂 And since I control the camera…

  • I agree with Scott. BTW – Go Gators I have a big investment in that school! As a yankee transplant to Tennessee in the late 80s – I will NEVER forget the first time I went to the grocery store and a MAN held the door open for me…I thought “he must be gay!” I later came to realize there weren’t a lot of gay people here – they were just being friendly.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Oh, Gary, that is hilarious!!!

  • My hubby says I can get a person’s bio in the check out line, at the coffee shop…you name it…some have become relationships and so wonderful.

    I carried it over to China and it worked for over two years…go back every year and it still works.

    The Chinese don’t know ‘personal space’ so they’re up in your face.

    I paid special attention to the ‘overlooked ones’…our garbage collectors, the other people who wielded the brooms and constantly swept the housing complex…I spoke English…they spoke Chinese and we got along beautifully…aah…southern hospitality is something out of this world…in any world and I love it.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I just loved that Don was so proud of being married 7 years. God Bless his sweet heart.

  • This post today was just a little bit of sweetness! You must appear to others that you are open to conversation. I happen to think it isn’t all that random.

  • Kim

    Exactly. My mama taught me, by example, that no one on a grocery store isle or at a drug store counter or really anywhere was a total stranger. There was a connection somewhere, if you’d bother to share a few things and welcome them to living life alongside you.

    • Wanda

      I’m catching up on some missed essays of Karen’s. So, since this article is a while back, you may not see this little note, but I’ll leave it anyway.

      I too love this essay of Karen’s.
      I love, love this comment of yours. I am going to quote you on my FB page. With only about 100 friends, it won’t bring you fame….. but it will make me feel good.

      Love to you and Karen and all “fellow-connectors”.