Reverb 14 | December 5 | Letting Go

Letting Go. For next year I am letting go of…

In graduate school, I worked at a Caribou Coffee for 10 months. I learned a lot about steaming milk perfectly, the art of the perfect coffee grind, and the patience, oh Lord the patience, needed to deal with people who get bent out of shape over holiday-themed lattes.

In my third week at the job, I was making a new pot of drip coffee. Filling to 2.5 gallon carafe with liquid gold coffee is pretty simple– you take a pre-measured amount of beans, grind them, put them in the filter, shove the carafe under the machine and flip a lock. Seven minutes later, all your dreams have come true the coffee is done and ready to serve. The simplicity is exactly why they have the new staff do this task. It is monumentally difficult to screw it up.

I love a good challenge…

In a typical morning at our store, there were as many as 5 carafes of coffee on a counter built for 4, all with timers that rang feverishly every 60 minutes to indicate that the coffee had expired.* Carafes were on a never-ending cycle of empty-rinse-refill, empty-rinse-refill. On the fateful day in question, I simply lost track of that cycle. I shoved a carafe under the machine, flipped the lock, and went about doing something else.

Until scalding hot coffee started pouring all over the counters and floors.

I had inadvertently stuck an already full carafe under the machine and the new coffee simply had no place to go but up and out and overflowed all over the store. And, it turns out, it can not be stopped because the machine is locked and the coffee is too hot to start cleaning immediately without being burned.

I was trembling with embarrassment as both co-workers and customers watched me frantically try to remedy the situation. But it sticks in my head as a good reminder of one thing: That which is full cannot receive.

If I do not let go once in a while, I make no space for new things or experiences or people to come in to my life. This is true for the things in my home, for the fullness of my calendar, and for the thoughts and attitudes I hold tightly to. Nobody does it all, even if it looks like they do. We make choices to let some things go to make room. Some of those are easy, like donating clothes that don’t fit or that haven’t been worn in years. But some of those choices are really hard, especially when it comes to time and people. But if I treat my life like that full carafe of coffee, I will overflow every time.


*There is a story about the incredible amount of product wasted at Caribou Coffee that I won’t get in to, but if you ever wonder why some of their stuff is so expensive, I would guess it’s because you are paying for more product than you are eating.


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