Close enough.
Shay Ball
Shay Ball
Nov 21, 2014 · 4 min read

Dear Todd,

You’re awesome. Let me tell you why. On a bright sunny day in Southern California, at the Starbucks on Robertson and Beverly, you made my damn day. There I was, looking like a crazy person with bloodshot eyes, an unruly curly faux fro, hunched over a laptop trying and failing to finish the first page of the next great American young adult novel. I was frustrated, I was sleep-deprived, and I was cranky. In other words, I needed caffeine. Straight shots of it. I dropped my head in my hands and smudged the eyeliner creeping down my lids, reinforcing the Sideshow-Bob-Had-A-Baby-With-A-Raccoon look, and waited for the line to die down. As it did, I observed you in the least creepy way possible, which was hard, because again, my hair.

Here’s what I observed, Todd.

Since it was the Starbucks on Robertson and Beverly, everyone in line looked celebrity-affiliated. Large sunglasses, hand-painted ombre hair, large shopping bags — the works. All they needed to complete the look was a Venti double pump eggnog latte, and they were in the game. But there was no sense of urgency around completing this look, Todd, because every time someone got to the front of the line, they just stood there. They were surveying the room, looking around for someone famous, while simultaneously trying to look famous, which I imagine is a hard thing to do in Los Angeles. As a Bay Area native and proud outsider, this is as irritating as it is easy to spot.

I've seen the absentminded line dweller situation handled many different ways by coffee shop and clothing store associates across the country, and let me tell you Todd, you’re a true gem. You didn’t roll your eyes, you didn’t raise your voice. You simply smiled, waited a bit, then urged them forward with a gentle “Hello there, I can take you over here. Hello there, I can take the next person. Hi there, hi ma’am, hi ladies…I can help you over here.” And you did this with a smile, until they snapped the hell back to reality and finally, for the love of God, approached the register. This wasn’t some act you put on for the ladies, either. Every single person that approached your register was greeted with the warmest, most tender smile I’ve seen on a human being since Fred Savage in the got-damn Wonder Years. In a city where I’ve been asked to give up my table for one and sit at the bar instead, or told that my laptop was disturbing the ambiance for other guests, your kindness was so effing refreshing I would have been brought to tears if my eyeliner hadn’t deactivated my tear ducts.

I watched this go on for a few minutes of creep life before I finally approached the counter myself and experienced your awesomeness firsthand. I had grand plans of a free tall coffee (because gold star status), but one look at your innocent, beard-free face and I knew better. Somehow you read my mind, because while I was thinking things over, like those annoying people I bashed a few paragraphs up, you spoke.

“Would you like to try one of our holiday drinks? They’re good.”

“Um, I was thinking of a grande latte. I need something bold.”

“Are you over there finishing up some homework? I see you working so hard.”

What, Todd?! Me? What about the efforts you’ve put forth to make everyone’s day feel like the first day of spring?

“Oh no, not homework. I’m old.”

“No way!”

Bless you, Todd.

“Yep. Just work.”

“Well, how about a holiday drink to cheer you up?”

“Um…I don’t really want anything sweet. Those look sweet.”

“How about this? How about we do something with two pumps instead of three, and an extra shot?”

“You can do that?”

“Of course! How about it?”

“Okay Todd. You’re good. I’ll take a crème brulee latte, just how you said.”

“Great. Do you have a Starbucks card?”

“I do.”

So now here I am, sitting in my usual spot, typing this instead of the first few pages of the next great American young adult novel, enjoying my new favorite drink. I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, or if anyone will ever thank you for the little slice of joy pie you bring to their day, but dammit Todd, you really put me in the holiday spirit with your exemplary customer service and your cherub face.

They should name a drink after you. I’d call it Todd’s Toasted Toffee or something like that. Anyway, thanks.


The Creepy Looking Girl with the Faux Fro that Always Wears the Same Sweatshirt

    Shay Ball

    Written by

    Shay Ball

    Sprinkle me, man.

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