Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mapco Angel & Hazelnut Coffee- A Sunday Morning Quest & Life Lesson Learned

I woke up at 3:30AM this morning. Lately, I've had a hard time balancing everything I need to do in a day, including sleeping. Once I'm awake, I can't go back to sleep. Doesn't matter what time my lids open, unfortunately. My husband can't understand this curse of mine.

Anyway, there aren't many places open this early on a Sunday morning. I really hadn't noticed until I decided I'd go buy a cup of coffee, rather than brew a pot at home today. This decision led me on an hour-long adventure down deserted roads of Nashville.

Now, one would reason that after the first few attempts to retrieve my precious cup of Hazelnut coffee (that only Mapco delivers) and not having any luck, I'd give up and go back home.

A reasonable person would do that. Then again, anyone with sense would be asleep right now.

One gas station after the next, I trekked across the city in search of my morning cup o' Joe. I figured that surely, some place would have to open here in just a few minutes or so.

That few minutes passed and more lightless gas stations were passed by my husband's squeaky Altima whose tags have been expired since September of this year. Since he never gets a ticket for breaking 'little' laws such as this one, renewing those tags is low on his manly priority list. Playing video games and going to work are just too hectic to stop by the County Clerk's office, I suppose. A demanding life does my sleeping husband lead...

Anyway, about that damn coffee...

I managed to avoid being caught with expired tags as I searched for it this morning.

After circling around my neighborhood, waiting for my local Mapco to open its hazelnut-coffee-housing doors, I decided to drive on to the next stop down the road.


So tired. Can't sleep. WANT coffee. Don't want coffee from home. MUST have hazelnut Mapco coffee.

My sleepy-state mind mixed with thoughts of my quest's sweet ending and the frustration I felt about risking a ticket for Josh's procrastination about the car tags.

I turned down this road and that, crossing under flashing red lights that apparently work to control traffic at this forsaken hour in which I drove. Nashville is a strange place at 3:30AM, I decided. A strange and haunting, coffee-less city where no OPEN signs held hope or promise for the weary traveler.

NPR played on the car's radio and I found that I like whatever it is they call 'Echoes', a musical selection for the small few who are up and about in the wee morning hours.

Still, no coffee.

I had become obsessed at this point.

Now, it was a matter of pride. A matter of will. The stuff of perseverance and sheer strength to press on down the dimly lit roads in search of what I now HAD to have.

At last, a woman appeared. An angel of the only Mapco open at 4:00AM. This divine creature carried with her a burden of what appeared to be a week's duration of trash accumulation. Wrapped in sheen white plastic were the bags she carried and street light glare caused her parcels to glisten in the moonlight.

Yes, this Mapco angel was a beautiful vision of green uniformed, trash-carrying glory!

As she struggled to transport the bags from within the Mapco to the exterior disposal bin, I felt a twinge of guilt for pulling into the one-other-car parking lot. She must be the only one working, I thought. She looks busy, too. I'm a jerk for making her stop what she's doing right now. She'll have to put down the bags just to scurry back inside and ring up my coffee at her register.

I'm a heartless jerk, though, whose coffee-quest can't end without moral questioning of my actions.

Nonetheless, I concluded my pondering of whether I were a selfish being or not with the slam of my car's door as I exited the law-breaking Altima and headed inside that Mapco like a soldier.

The Mapco angel was still outside, gathering her bags and hurrying across the parking lot to get back inside the station.

I scan the large canisters filled with coffee. My heart feels happy but when I glance back at the clear glass doors from which I'd entered, I feel guilty again to see the woman hurry back to meet me inside.

And then, my guilt subsided. I felt angry. I could not show my fury to the angel, for I had burdened her enough during her store-opening chore interruptions I'd caused. However, I was faced with a crisis.

No hazelnut coffee had yet been brewed.

Not one single drop of that delicious bean-broken aroma had met my nostrils and not a drop of the morning brew fell from the spout upon the application of hand pressure.

Dear God, WHY?

I realize I am having an internal temper tantrum that is highly dramatic and unjustified.

I must settle for another coffee selection.

One hour later and I must settle for non-Hazelnut coffee.


No, no. I will NOT ask the angel to please brew hazelnut coffee. That would be ridiculous. I will not explain to the Mapco angel, now standing behind the register, that I have been on an hour-long quest and only Hazelnut coffee can end my journey. I just can't. I want to.

I really, really, reeeeaaaaaallllly want to just ask. It won't take long and the awkwardness will pass if I do, I reason silently to myself as I stare at the 'hazelnut' label on the pot that is tragically empty.

"How are you this morning?"

The angel speaks and I am needlessly startled as I break from my foggy-minded conflicts to answer.

"Good! How are you?"

"I'm doing well, thank you for asking."

"Well, that's good.... Um... (no, Regina, DO NOT ASK HER TO MAKE THE COFFEE- brief debate resumes in my mind), I'm glad you're doing well. I'm sorry that I interrupted you from what you were doing. I bet you have to do a lot in the mornings to open this store so I hate to make you stop."

"Oh, sweetie, it's no problem!"

The angel smiles genuinely and I at last conclude that I will not ask this kind employee for a single thing more than I must have.

 I can live without Hazelnut coffee, although I do not strive to experience type of life-altering situation on a long-term basis.

I fill a green paper cup with a sub-standard brew that the early-rising employee has already made.

I determine that the Mapco angel is a kind, hard-working, caring, and ambitious individual as I chat with her at the register. My intuition for sizing up someone's character is a talent that I have improved upon over the past few years. I trust the immediate feeling I get about a person. This has proven to be accurate 9 times out of 10, according to my last and most recent research statistic.

I bid the only coffee-maker in Nashville a hearty farewell and she beams back at me, wishing me a great day as I and my coffee left the station.

There are some who believe that everything happens for a reason. I know not whether I am convicted in this belief, which to me- is human nature's justification to explain the unpredictable and coincidental events of life...

Nonetheless, I do believe in something.

I believe that there are kind people who we meet during moments when our own kindness and compassion for others is lacking. We run into Mapco angels when we are focused on something trivial or on satisfying a stupid thing we want or think we want.

Whether or not this happens 'for a reason' is beyond me. I just know that it happens. After we meet the Mapco angels, we find ourselves evaluating and comparing our lives to those of these people. We find that we should be more grateful. We see someone whose attitude is better than our own and we feel need for change. We see that there are others whose daily routines are more difficult than our own. We see them smiling about their situation and we break the frowns we have just so we can smile back at them.

Call this fate, call it coincidence. Call it God. Call it nothing.

Whatever you decide to explain the little things in life that make you learn something from a Mapco angel, just remember that you've been that angel for someone else at one time or another.

You've made somebody realize that they didn't need that cup of Hazelnut coffee, which- while truly delicious and sip-worthy, also serves as a symbolic representation of the silly things we want or that distract us in life.

So, thank you Mapco angel. I will probably see you again once you've had more time to brew the Hazelnut pot of coffee. :)

Maybe I'll get it, maybe I won't. I just know that watching someone like you makes me realize that I may be lacking in more than just coffee. I will smile more today at others because you smiled at me.

Your smile and commitment to the kind and professional services of others has been noticed by someone...even if it is a crazy customer who loves her coffee way too much. :)

Notice the little things today, friends. Take a step back from what you're seeking and striving to achieve in your daily tasks. Stop to wonder what someone else is doing. Observe how they do it. Learn something and pass it on. :)

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