Hello and good day!
A Nicaraguan, a Texan, and a homeless guy walk into a chocolate shop...
Sounds like the beginning of a joke doesn't it? But it isn't a joke.
It happened yesterday in our chocolate shop and it brought home something that I've been observing and pondering for a long time.
Food is one of the world's greatest unifying forces. People who would appear to have almost nothing in common, can agree on food.
If you've been following along for a while, you may recall that we give away free hot chocolate in our chocolate shop all day every day. It doesn't help our bottom line, but we consider it a long term investment. It is an investment in our community and in our brand.
We want to be thought of as a staple in our neighborhood, a place you should go every time you are in the area, even if just to say high to the folks working there and get a free hot chocolate. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a gathering out in front of our shop of people just standing around, talking, and taking a load off for a few.
Yesterday, I was standing out in front of the shop when a homeless guy walked by. He had scruffy, long black hair, a thick black beard, he was wearing a tie dyed shirt, shorts, and he had no shoes on. His bare feet were just about the dirtiest feet that I've ever seen. Poor guy. It was 35 degrees outside!
He asked if the hot chocolate was actually free and I said yes. I told him to wait and I went in and got him one.
As I came out, one of our long time customers came walking by. She wasn't there to buy anything, but she saw me and stopped to chat. I waved goodbye to the homeless fellow, he thanked me, and walked away.
I like this gal from Texas. She is a long talker, but she is interesting. She always justifies her long talking by saying "I'm from Texas and I talk". Her stance is that folks from Seattle don't like to talk and she needs to explain herself and why she talks so much.
I know that every few minutes, she'll give me a little reminder that she is going on for so long because she is from Texas. I always reassure her that it is no bother. As I was talking to my friend from Texas, a gentleman from Nicaragua who I had just met, came out and joined in on the conversation.
Maybe the only people who can outtalk Texans are Nicaraguans and these two got into an epic. The first topic was dictators. They started talking about the news from Peru and then got onto the topic of the dictator in Nicaragua.
We have two Venezuelan people working for our company and one was in the shop yesterday evening. Our Nicaraguan friend said that people in Venezuela have it much harder than people in Nicaragua.
He said that when he was in college in New York, he had Venezuelan friends and they always carried around big knots of cash in their pockets. They were rich! Venezuela was the richest and most highly educated country in South America. But now, under their dictator, they are very poor.
In Nicaragua though, they've always been poor, so it doesn't really matter who is in charge or what happens. My friend said that if you give him a tortilla with salt on it, he will be perfectly content. Never mind a hot chocolate!
Our friend from Texas started to tell us about a friend of hers who has lung cancer and the Nicaraguan guy said he had a friend who suffered from that as well. We stood out there in the cold, with our steaming hot chocolates, and talked for a good long time.
A Russian mother I know who always comes with her two little kids for hot chocolate rode by on her massive orange bike.She is a petite woman from Siberia, but she rides around on this enormous bike with two big child seats that look welded onto the back.It looks very precarious, but it seems to work. She rung her bell at us as she drove by and we all waved.
Just as our conversation was coming to an end, we heard a yell from across the parking lot. "Hey!" yelled the homeless guy and he yelled loud. "The hot chocolate was f'ing delicious! Except he didn't use an apostrophe.
The whole parking lot heard that endorsement.
I wish he wouldn't have cursed because there were probably kids around somewhere, but what are you going to do? We all shrugged and everybody went on their way, except me.
I went in and said goodbye to the team. It was time to head home. It was too dark and too cold to keep walking around talking to people.
The whole scene was very typical. We've got a five year lease and we are only 6 months into it. Lots more community building to do and hot chocolate is the mortar.
Thank you so much for your time today.I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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