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.