The coffee cup that showed me I wasn’t the only person in the world

It was a busy Thursday morning in London, and I hadn’t slept very well the night before.

So, it only made sense to pick up a super-charged coffee on my way to work.

I didn’t have time to browse my options too much and, like it or not, I settled onĀ  Starbucks.

It was near and it was easy. (Although usually those aren’t my key drivers for making most decisions in life!)

As anyone who’s ever set foot in a Starbucks in the last ten years will know they’re still continuing with the whole ‘make it personal’ thing by asking you with for your name.

I don’t really like my name all that much (but, if I changed it I’d have one less thing to complain about, and I need my go-tos) – yet, as creative as I think I am, I can never think up another name in time… so I end up going with the one I was born with, ‘Ashley’.

It was a busy day in this particular Starbucks but I’m British, so I’m good at queuing and was able to persevere.

(Which makes me think, as much as I was wholly against it myself, why are so many of the British people who voted leave complaining about how long it’s taking to initiate Brexit… aren’t they supposed to love waiting and queuing to do something!?)

Eventually the barista sang out my name and, with flushed cheeks, I head over and collected my steam beverage.

I had just gotten outside the door when I heard an American voice shouting ‘Wait! Wait!’

I turned round to see that an irate-looking woman with red hair had chased me out of the cafe.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Is your name Ashley?” she bellowed back.

“Er…yeah…why?” I answered.

“It’s definitely Ashley?” she reiterated.

I confirmed and, with a tut, she hurried off. I thought about going after her to find out what that was all about but, one thing I’ve learnt since living in London, is that a lot of weird things happen and you’d waste valuable time trying to work each one out.

The tube station was next to the Starbucks, and I was just about to head through the turnstiles and into the tunnel when the same woman appeared next to me.

“Sorry about that!” she exclaimed, “my name’s Ashley too. I always pre-order my Starbucks and I was worried you’d walked off with it”.

There are 7.6 billion people in the world.

8.7 people in London alone.

And yet, we still think we’re the only person in the world at times.

I know I do it too.

But, according to Google, there are 212 people (in the UK alone) with my same exact first name and last name as me.

It’s worth keeping this mind as we try to understand each others’ perspectives. Whether we be trying to get a message across to someone, or trying to sell something.

We’re all unique. No one’s an island.

(If anyone cares, the Starbucks in the right of the featured picture is the exact Starbucks it happened in!)

The coffee cup that reminded me I was human

So, there I am. It’s a little after 9am and I’m on an aeroplane.

I’ve been up since 4am and my brain has become a bubbling hybrid of two extremes. Sleepiness and pre-holiday excitement.

When it comes to travel I’m a reader. I love to read when I’m on a flight or a long drive. It’s guilt-free reading time when you have nothing else to do but lose yourself in words that inspire and interest you.

So, to keep myself sharp, I order a coffee. This turns up:

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I assumed that the bit on the top was to allow the coffee to cool down. I left it for a while and came back to it…only to find out that it was too hot.

So I pull the lid off, let it cool down, and then take a sip. Damned if I don’t get a mouthful of coffee suds.

Instantly my stunned mind went to blame the airline. Why on earth would they serve coffee with such sediment?

The flight attendant walks past, smiles at me, notices that I put my lid on the floor and asks me if I want another one.

Why? Why would I? I just took the lid off…


And then it hits me. The ‘cooling off bit on the top’ (great phrasing) is actually a filter…to stop idiots like me getting a mouthful of coffee suds.

And so I gratefully accepted the new lid and enjoyed my coffee through the filter.

For a moment or two I felt the thing that we all fear most…idiocy.

It was so obvious…how did I not realise?

Hindsight has a way of making you feel ridiculous, doesn’t it?

But that feeling didn’t last long. Pretty soon it disappeared into the clouds around me and slipped away from everyone else’s memory.

I mean, after all, in a world where we try our hardest to know everything and to uncover every secret…it’s nice to sometimes realise just how stupid you are.