A Cup of Coffee at the Tower of Babel

Posted on February 15, 2017


The following is a guest post from Gayane Palian, a reader of this blog and longtime resident of Washington, DC:

I go to Starbucks for a shot of sociability and civility in addition to my coffee.  Whether it’s the baristas or the customers, am never disappointed.

My regular stops include the one on Mass Ave. next to Crate and Barrel.  It is managed by Ahmed, Co-Manager Kabi, the big fellow from Cameroon, his wife just had their fourth child.  Their team includes young students from AU, a whole family of Ethiopians: Mem Mem and her three beautiful young sons all work there.  I gave Mem Mem a ride home one day in the snow, she usually walks up Mass. to her apartment building.  And of course several others of  North African descent,  Mo, Daniel (who also works at the CVS across the street).  It’s like walking into Cheers, “hey Gayane”.

Same thing at the Palisades Starbucks at Arizona Ave.  Anelle, manages it.  Tyrone, a tall and absolutely delightful young man is studying acting.   More Ethiopians.  Anelle always asks about my Dad, she has an elderly mom and we share our stories.  (I had taken Dad there once, only to hear his complaint about how expensive it is for a cup of coffee, but he loved the hot chocolate I got him.)  They prepare my drink as soon as I walk in, before I order.

At Chevy Chase Pavilion Starbucks yesterday.  I don’t go there as a regular, so I don’t know the crew.  Very cheerful barista greets me with a beautiful contagious smile.  I tell her congrats on Starbucks’ CEO pledge about hiring 100,000 refugees.  She didn’t understand a word I said.  She talked and talked and I didn’t understand her, she had an accent I couldn’t discern.  Still smiling, she handed me a croissant free of charge.

I thanked her and walked away thinking maybe she had understood me and this was her way of acknowledging me.  It may also be too emotional a subject for some.

Peace, one croissant at a time!