On Sunday afternoon a couple weeks ago, I stopped at Starbucks during my 75-mile drive home from a family reunion. I stood off to the side, mentally debating what to get while the twenty-something man ahead of me ordered. I could not decide whether I wanted a Cool Lime Refresher or my usual [hot] caramel americano. (Why, yes, it was 105 degrees outside but that does not deter my love of hot drinks.)
My attention was pulled from decision-making when the customer ahead of me looked at the curly-haired man behind the register and asked if he used to work at Starbucks in a nearby town. The barista confirmed and the customer exclaimed that he did too, “I thought you looked familiar! You got rid of your ponytail though.”
The barista ran his fingers through his hair, “Yeah, I was trying to get a job teaching English in Korea and needed to look professional for interviews. It worked though because I got a job. Today’s actually my last day working here.”
When they finished their conversation, I ordered my drink and asked the barista, “Are you having a good day? I heard you say it’s your last one.”
His face lit up, “It’s pretty good. Yeah, I’m going to teach English in South Korea.” I said it sounded exciting and mentioned quite a few of my friends have taught English in Korea and Japan. He asked if I’d been there and we talked about the places I went on a whirlwind visit to South Korea. I asked if he had a degree in English and how he decided to teach. His degree is in creative writing “but that doesn’t really pay bills” and he wanted to try something new. I told him I am working on my M.A. in TESOL* and he should look into it if he decides he likes teaching English. He enthusiastically asked all sorts of questions about the program and admissions requirements, which I gladly answered.
I strolled out of the store with my iced americano, grinning at having witnessed and played a part in someone else’s small-world, random-crazy-connection experience.
*Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages