I have a nice little routine these summer days. Since we don’t have Mass at school during the summer, I have to find Mass at other times and places. I’ve been walking to the hospital at 11:30 for Mass, but sometimes I find myself losing track of time in the morning and not realizing it’s Mass time, and other times I just don’t want to step out into 102 degree weather to hoof it over to the hospital. So it’s better if I go to early Mass before work.
If I actually make it out of bed, I treat myself to a bagel for breakfast after Mass.
I love unusual routines — schedules that you keep for a week or two, which become little traditions in and of themselves, but are still special because you know it’s not your schedule for very long. A few weeks ago, I went to Panera everyday after work to study for the GRE. I was actually a little disappointed when I didn’t have to study anymore, because I was enjoying my special routine.
That’s the way my mornings have been. I’ve always been a morning person — if you can get me out of bed. (this post is full of oxymorons, isn’t it?) Once I resist the snooze button, I love being awake before the rest of the world. I love the peacefulness and the realization that you have your whole day in front of you.
So that brings me to this week’s routine. After 6:30 Mass, I stop by Bruegger’s for a bagel and coffee. I highly recommend their new trail mix bagel, which is a nice combination of dried cranberry & pomegranate, various seeds, and multigrains. There’s honey in it, too, so it has a nice healthy sweet touch. Most likely, it’s one of those foods that’s only masquerading as a health food, and I’m probably better off getting chocolate chip. But it’s yummy.
After I order my bagel and coffee, I sit down at one of the tables, right next to a few old men that are there every morning, and I read my book while eating my breakfast. After about twenty minutes, it’s time to get back into my car and continue on my way to work.
For the last few days, there have been two boys working the bagel area (the same woman always gets your coffee and works the cash register — and in the last two years, whenever I go there, she’s there. At her cash register. It never fails. It’s sort of comforting.) The first time the younger boy helped me, I thought he seemed vaguely familiar. I was their only customer for the time being, and there was playful banter back and forth. (I suppose if he wasn’t 17 years old, it could be called flirting, but I’m sure he thinks I’m an old woman — doesn’t every 17 year old think that about anyone with a single gray hair, much less an entire streak?– so I’ll call it “playful banter.”)
Today, when there was more playful banter, I realized he reminded me of a boy that worked at my dad’s office with me few summers ago, when I was pulled into the medical records department in a pinch and was told to get everyone in line. I found myself in charge (sort of) of a couple of full-time employees and a handful of summer help, including two boys who enjoyed “playful banter.”
As I left the bagel shop this morning, I thought about Cole and what he might be doing these days. That summer he had just graduated from high school and was off to college, so by now he must be almost finished. (Unless, of course, he went to Purdue, in which case he may have a few years before he gets that diploma.) I don’t even remember the other guy’s name, although I still have a random sticker of Daisy Duck that he gave me on my last day, now stuck to a door in my apartment (although it’s a long story how it ended up making the trip to Nashville.)
People come and go in your life, and you’re never quite sure who you’ll never see again and who might turn up when you least expect them. You may have a minute with someone, or you may have a summer — and when you part ways at the end, you may have no clear idea of what effect you had in their lives. Maybe they’ll promptly forget you even existed. Or maybe something you’ve said or done stuck with them.
God puts people in our lives for a reason, and we don’t always have the advantage of seeing the “why” when it’s happening. Maybe we’re just supposed to smile at the guy on the train. Or maybe we’re supposed to counsel that neighbor who needs advice. Perhaps that person we talked to a few years ago will end up being our employer five years from now, and we’ll be grateful for that good impression we made. Or maybe we’re just supposed to cheer up the bagel guy with our playful banter.