Slice of Life: To the barista who gifted me unexpected joy

Kyle and I recently discovered a new coffee shop not too far from the house. As excited as we were to find a local coffee shop, a quick Google search proved it was actually a chain in various states (eye roll).

Either way, it isn’t the green mermaid, so we try to go there as our alternative whenever time allows.

A couple of weeks ago I ventured to get us coffees through the drive thru and was shocked at being asked my current read while sitting there waiting for two lattes, arm hanging out the window.

Barista: so, what’re you reading?
Me: *leaning ear out of car* um..I’m sorry?
Barista: what’re you reading?
Me: *completely discombobulated* I am, uh, I’m…actually, I just finished up a teacher book reminding and empowering teachers navigating the public school system to always hold tight to what’s best for kids. No matter what.
Barista: that’s awesome!
Me: Y-yeah! What’re you reading?
Barista: I’m actually reading a middle grade science fiction novel. It’s so good! I honestly haven’t really, really read in so long, but I made a goal for this year and wanted to include some “easy” to get through books ha ha ha!

We Got This. by Cornelius Minor. Equity, Access, and the Quest to
Book I told barista about

I encouraged her in the reading of middle grade novels and cheered her on in her reading goal, exchanged pleasantries, and drove off with two coffees.

Totally thrown off, I was joyful the rest of the day. Instead of asking the usual “how are you?” and receiving the robotic “fine, you?,” this maybe-a-teenager college student barista engaged me with “what are you reading?”

I often make excuses for avoiding interactions like that on not having enough time. But there’s always enough time. Imagine asking “what’re you reading?” the next time you greet someone in line or wait in a lobby. What a conversation starter!

So, friends, what’re you reading these days?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sol-logo.jpg
I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life weekly challenge.

24 thoughts on “Slice of Life: To the barista who gifted me unexpected joy

  1. sab33n says:

    Hi Britt,
    I love this question and would love to be asked and to answer but it’s so easy to just default to the the How are you/Fine, thanks. I just started reading Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Rehel. I don’t know who recommended it to me or how I find it but it’s a quirky first person narrative and I’m enjoying it so far. Thanks for your sharing your book recommendation in your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Angelina says:

    I love this idea. I’m always thinking that I should be engaging with folks around me while I wait in this line or that. Asking what book someone is reading is a great starter. I’m reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. So far, I love it!


    1. britt says:

      I completely agree! Now that the barista has modeled a different way for me, I feel I have no excuse to not engage someone ever again ha! 🙂 The Hiding Place!! I haven’t read it in years, but I do remember loving it. Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mom says:

    Loved this post! I’m sure the interaction made your day. I am currently reading a slew of journal articles related to the time it takes for English learners to attain English proficiency. As usual, not a novel, but definitely interesting reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tim Gels says:

    Wow, what a great experience! Every once in a while, when I think the time is right, I’ll try to ask a person how they’re doing in such a way as to get an answer beyond, “Fine.” I don’t do it every time, but it’s nice to have random conversation now and again. It’s even better when they return the question.

    As to what I’m reading, currently it’s Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The author is an indigenous person who’s a biologist, and the book is about how relationships with the natural world are beneficial to both humans and the Earth itself. It’s good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. britt says:

      It truly was such an excellent experience. One might think I would just drive off and not think of it again, but I simply cannot stop the interaction from visiting me again and again. I miss random conversations with random people!

      Braiding Sweetgrass – I love the title even! 🙂


  5. Ramona says:

    Love that you were asked what you were reading at the drive-up window. I’m currently reading The Moment of Lift for a book club meeting this week, The Power of Stillness, and The Mistletoe Promise (a Christmas story that my brother recommended to me). I love this question! And I need to decide which audio book to open. I have Wintering, The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh. and Clap When You Land on my holds shelf. How to choose???

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jonathan Rivera says:

    What a lovely encounter! I’m reminded of late comedian Bill Hicks. He had a bit about being in the south and eating at a Waffle House and being asked “Watcha reading” not “What are you reading?” But “What are you reading for?” Hicks was problematic as comedian and person but too funny. I have that book on my to read list I got it at NCTE 2019 and saw him from afar. But I will bump it up based on your post! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. britt says:

      It had to be the south. It had to be Waffle House. HA! What an odd thing to be asked, huh?

      Cornelius Minor is awesome – definitely read it sooner rather than later! Thanks for reading, Jonathan!


  7. Lainie Levin says:

    First of all? I. Need. This. BOOK. And what I also find so wonderful about your post is your openness to this exchange, of allowing yourself the time to share perspectives from this barista, of letting it shape you in some small but measurable way. As for me, I’m kind of in the middle of a few things, but I’m really excited to be tackling Humans by Brandon Stanton.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. britt says:

      Lainie, your comment is making my heart glow. I won’t lie – I am likely going to copy down part of your comment in my notebook so I can hold onto it forever.. 🙂 Please don’t judge me!

      I just searched Humans on Goodreads – this is the Humans of New York guy?!??? SO ADDING THAT TO MY TBR LIST!


  8. cmargocs says:

    Somewhere in my clutter I have a button pin that asks that same question…your post warmed the cockles of my librarian heart! Imagine if we could get the window workers at the fast food places around our schools, the cashiers at the grocery stores, to ask this very same question…we could create a CULTURE of READING, so very needed when the culture of willful ignorance seems to have taken over. Thank you for sharing this heartwarming moment with us!


  9. Alice says:

    My librarian heart is so happy! I read this book as part of a staff book club pre-pandemic. We finished discussing it every few weeks. Our admin. team was able to invite Cornelius Minor to our end of the year virtual Zoom meeting. He is such an incredible, insightful, and intentional educator. I’m rereading it because it’s now a book study for everyone at our campus.

    The other book I’m currently reading is Mexican Gothic. Unfortunately, my audiobook from the library expired before I could finish it, so I’m hunting it down. In the meantime, I’m now listening to Britt Marie Was Here.

    What a refreshing post, thank you!


    1. britt says:

      Alice! I am so jealous that your school invited him to Zoom with you all – what a treat!

      ALSO, how was Mexican Gothic so far?! I keep seeing it pop up in random places, and I’m intrigued. However, I don’t like creepy/scary stuff, so I don’t know if I should even start ha. I just looked up Britt Marie Was Here; added to my Goodreads. Thanks for the rec, and stopping by to read 🙂


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