I've scribbled the alphabet for meaning since I can remember.
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden."― Phaedrus
I'm traveling around to some new places. It takes me a moment to ground in - to breathe in the vibe. One of those is the Dog Patch of San Francisco; it's actually pretty sweet when you take the time to check out the nooks and crannies.
I told my host, a sweet yogini, that I had taken to local coffee shops as a ritual to wander the neighborhoods and connect with community.
"Oh, we have a Philz."
"No? You have a Philz," I sigh relieved as my GPS had told me I would be hiking for miles under freeways to find anything.
"Yes, totally top secret - just down that alley."
"I just learned about the one in Santa Monica. Everything is so new and "secret" here."
"Yes," she laughs. "Go there you will love it."
I had woken up a little disoriented just feeling in to what the next three months of travel and unknown would bring. This little coffee shop seemed like a good sign: Something known.
I walk past a patch of green, down the industrial alleyway and find the huge, bright new Philz: easy. The door had a lock and a keypad - no go. I walk past the windows where two employees have their heads tucked down. Probably not open yet, I thought.
I walk on - but stop to check my phone. It was 8:28am on a Sunday - of course they are open. And then a man walks towards me - smiling - with two coffees in his hand from Philz.
I feel like an idiot: Maybe the entrance was around the corner? Maybe there was a universal cool San Francisco code? Maybe I had not tried hard enough? I sashay back to the door.
Punch a few buttons: nothing.
Gently turn the handle: nothing.
Yank the handle: nothing.
Walk up to the corner: nothing.
Try the door again with a calmer breathing rate: nothing.
Gah. A little fixated, completely humiliated for not getting such a simple thing, I defeatedly do something I never do, the unthinkable: I ask for help.
I stand stupidly at the window while shrugging my shoulders and motioning towards the door at the employee who has caught my eye. At first, I was proud that I had asked - but then I see the guy's body language: completely frustrated. He saunters across the large coffeehouse, opens the previously locked door, steeling a smile and says: "I can help you."
Confused, I blurt: "Oh?"
"Are you open?"
"Oh. What time do you open?"
I began to shrink in embarrassment, and the guy begins to soften seizing up the moment. Simultaneously we both speak:
"I am visiting and had no idea --"
"Totally come in, I can help you."
As we walk in, I explain hesitantly, "I thought you were closed. Then I thought I was an idiot," I continue to over explain, "when I see another other guy with coffee....."
He giggles, "Oh my god don't worry about it. Are you really from Hawaii?"
"I live there yes, and I had just found the Philz in Santa Monica. And loved it + got really excited when I heard about this one. My friend said it was secret, but didn't say you weren't open."
"It is totally cool. I am glad you found us. What would you like this morning?"
I look up: "Whatever is the easiest you are totally helping me out."
"They are all the easiest, but I am gonna make you something good. We actually have our grand opening in 2 days and are only responding to people that are like, "Hey can I like come in?"
"No, you're fine totally. You have to come back for opening party on Tuesday though," he invites.
"I fly out Monday. Thanks though."
"Well then you were SUPPOSED to be here today."
I smile and look for a lid.
"Wait, try it first and make sure it is perfect."
It didn't matter, I am already warmed by his kindness, but I sip anyway. "Perfect."
I reach for my purse. He shakes his head, "This is totally on me today. Come back when you come back to visit San Francisco."
I well up, just for a moment. Not the real tear kind, just the watery shock of unexpected kindness. It seems I am more braced for anger than kindness in a seemingly rushed and scared world. "You just changed my day," I smile, walking slowly.
"Enjoy your visit," he calls after me.
Seriously people, just be nice.
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