We All Have A Story. A Day At The Coffee Shop

My last blog touched many people. This week I offer a blog that continues the discussion.

I am working on a variety of topics and in order to ensure the material has enough time and attention I have will be introducing a guest blogger from time to time.

This week’s Guest Blogger is Joshua Dicker. 


The strong scent of coffee beans wafts into my nose as I step inside the bustling shop. Squeezing by the line of customers that nearly reaches the entrance, I wander to the back of the store while quickly glancing at the clock. Five-fifty nine. One minute to spare. Fastening my mocha-colored hat with the signature DD insignia onto my head, I unlock the waist-high door and take my place behind the counter. Six in the morning at Dunkin’ Donuts on a Saturday, and I am ready for my shift.

My co-workers range from people my own age, to middle-aged adults, to people who have not learned English until their adult years; a much different picture than the one I witness every day at my all male Catholic preparatory school. Suddenly, my boss rushes past me grumbling in a thick Boston accent, “Don’t faahget to sign in, unless you want to work for free.” Although measuring no more than five-feet-six inches, Steve possesses a demeanor that emanates confidence, wisdom, and experience. He embodies the classic Dunkin’ Donuts worker, born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, sporting a scruffy beard.

Unbeknownst to customers, Steve sold cocaine at the age of 15, became a father at the age of 18, and now at 32 years old, has straightened out his life through a job at Dunkin’ Donuts. If not for my job, I would be unaware of the fact that this man works 8 hour shifts 6 days a week to support his son, his girlfriend, and her son. The stories of the recovering heroin addict, the current heroin addict, the pregnant woman, the single mother, the single father; all would have lost meaning to me, lives that I would have never understood if not for my job at Dunkin’ Donuts. My initial false perceptions of my coworkers led to my own introspection of the contrast between who I really am and how I am perceived. I sometimes fall victim to forgetting that people carry their own struggles, and have their own stories to tell.

I realize that many people will look at me and make assumptions about my life. From the outside they will see a 18-year-old young man blessed with many advantages, who lives in a beautiful town near the ocean, attends a private high school, and has a mother and father actively involved in his life, a seemingly worry-free existence. When I look at myself, I see a completely different picture. I see a person who struggles with anxiety issues, stemming from his mother’s two-time diagnosis and recovery from cancer. I see a Jewish teenager, a minority among his peers at a Catholic high school, who has strengthened and developed a greater understanding of his faith through the thought-provoking experience. I see a person laying awake at night with anxiety that roots itself in the fundamental questions of his existence, purpose, and fragility of life.

“This is way too dark, I said extra milk” whined a middle-aged woman, referring to the milk content in her Iced Coffee.

“I’m sorry about that, ma’m, I’ll add some more milk for you,” I said in my most polite tone.

Taking the Iced Coffee to the sink, I quickly drained half the coffee and filled up the cup with milk. With her sunglasses still masking her eyes, the woman took one look at the coffee and lost it.

“NO ONE IN THIS STORE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE MY COFFEE!” she yelled, condemning me as if I were put on this earth for the sole purpose of making her coffee each morning.

To the woman, I was nothing more than a kid messing up her coffee, a person well beneath her, a deserving recipient of her wrath. I bit my tongue and smiled. She has a story too, I wonder what it is.

Joshua Dicker will be a freshman at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

About Shari

I am a two-time cancer survivor and patient advocate. Diagnosed as a young adult, at age 25 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had to quickly face the reality of life’s curveballs. My treatment offered a potential cure while at the same time, underestimated the long term side effects including a secondary cancer (breast cancer) nine years later. Shortly after my breast cancer treatment ended, my youthful, seemingly healthy mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and passed a year later. I have lived the cancer experience as a patient and a family member/ caregiver and understand both sides. Life after treatment is often challenging emotionally and physically and there is a gap in providing needed support. I don’t consider cancer a gift as it is not something I would ever want to give to someone. Rather, I view cancer as an opportunity; one I received at an early point in my life to live intentionally, understanding how things can change at any moment. I live without regrets, fully understanding the gift and fragility of life.
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8 Responses to We All Have A Story. A Day At The Coffee Shop

  1. Linda Kane says:

    This blog by Josh is absolutely amazing. It shows such an ability to look at others beyond just externals. Equally important is his willingness to look into himself and share his concerns and insecurities – these qualities are frankly rare in someone his age. He should be very proud of what he’s written and I’m sure you and his father are even more proud of the young man he’s turned our to be. He presents a great model for us to never judge someone else’s outside alone;
    to look at ourselves more than we look at others. Kudos!


    • Shari says:

      Thanks Linda for your words. We are really proud of Josh. He is an old soul. Has always had this ability to see beyond his years and he is a great writer!


  2. Kathleen says:

    Nicely shared story. Very contemplative. One thing I have learned is underneath all the anger is usually a great deal of sorrow or sadness.


  3. Shari says:

    Thanks Kathleen. I agree there is usually something beneath the surface.


  4. hudsonww says:

    Dear Shari:

    This was just wonderful and so beautifully written. Please congratulate Josh for me and tell him that I shared it with Suzann and Jonathan. So many similarities to life growing up here in Hudson and even growing up in my little town in New Jersey.

    It was wonderful to see you this past weekend, especially with Sam and Josh. So tall and handsome. Maybe the genes come from Green Acres Road!!!

    Enjoy the next couple of weeks with the boys.

    xx, oo, Janet

    Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2015 23:39:08 +0000 To: jrschnitzer@hotmail.com


    • Shari says:

      Thanks Janet. It was great to see you too and for you to catch up with the boys. I will pass your comments on to Josh. He is a very beautiful writer.


  5. Paul Berman says:

    A wonderfully insightful essay from a sensitive young man. Keep up the good work,Josh!!


  6. Shari says:

    Thanks for your comment. He is an insightful young man and I hope he keeps writing!


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