“Can I try the Coco Loco?” We were two women wafting carefree through a famous Southern California getaway town. Our early morning had been spent hiking, and while most of the rest of our day had unfolded poolside, there was still a sense that we’d earned this sweet splurge. Heck – earned or not, we were splurging!
Behind the glass display filled with gouged buckets of colorful goodness, an employee answered my request by grabbing a micro-sized plastic spoon and scooping out the Coco Loco sample. Reaching up to receive the tiny mound, our eyes met and I asked, “What’s your name?” Her answer came automatically, “Cassie”, but surprise was evident in her voice as she explained “No one’s asked me that since I’ve been here. No one’s asked me my name.”
“How long have you been here, Cassie?” We expected her answer to be something like ‘three hours’ or ‘all weekend.’ Instead, she said, “Seven months.” The only thing wafting now was disbelief. My heart sank while my mouth gave voice to what everyone was simultaneously calculating – “How can that be?” Of course, there isn’t a reasonable answer, but I looked around this little ice cream shop expecting someone to provide it anyhow. The “someones” now numbered just three. Earlier patrons had departed and new ones hadn’t yet arrived.
In this cleared out time and place, we each engaged on a deeper level. Between a few more samples, next questions, single scoops in waffle cones, genuine answers and the final payment transaction, Cassie explained how and why this part-time job so perfectly fit the current needs of her family. She even shared a picture of her children with us.
Hundreds of customers over seven months. One server. All of the former came and went without knowing the name of the latter. For the three of us, on that Saturday evening, knowing was better.