However, this acceptance came with a price. When the shop opened nearly five years, residents were outraged.
“You mean to tell me that these pinko, commie, tree-hugging, atheist sons-a-bitches, are gonna come into my town and gay up all our kids with their fancy-pants drinks. Well, fuck you.”
That was basically the headline of the local paper the day our store opened.
Most of these people didn't want anything to do with a company (that shall not be named) known for yuppie servitude and leftish leanings, but over time people forgot and considered us to be one of their own.
That was until last Saturday.
A young man stood at the entrance of our store with a sign that read “This Company Supports Gay Marriage. Do You?”
The answer, was a resounding NO.
Luckily I was not there, because I would probably really not be a barista if I had been.
But the next day I was met with this.
This man forfeited his rewards card that had $20 on it. He explained not so subtly that he did not agree with the company's stance on gay marriage and for that reason he would no longer be a patron. He felt that this was something worth standing up for.
Now, normally, this wouldn't be an issue. But I knew this man. He came in every day. He met me with a smile and kindness. I cared how his day was. I asked about his family. I watched his baby turn into a toddler. I watched that toddler turn into a rambunctious boy. I handed him his coffee and his child a luke-warm hot chocolate that I pinky-promised was coffee just like his daddy's.
I liked him. I liked him as more than just a customer. I liked him as a person.
And I felt like I had been tricked into thinking that this person believed the same things as me. That because he came into our store every day and shared conversation with me, he wasn't like so many others.
“Fuck him,” I said to my manager.
She frowned and said that we didn't know the situation.
“It doesn't matter,” I said. “No situation would make his behavior acceptable.”
“It's just how some people are around here,” she countered.
And she was right. I had overlooked this town's initial distaste for us. I had assumed that their presence in our store meant that they were on our side.
My manager made sure I knew that I was not allowed to say anything on the matter to customers if this situation were to happen again.
I'm not sure if the young man with the controversial sign will come back, but if he does I will not say anything.
I will stand next to him with a sign that says, “YES”.
Because our dissatisfied customer was right, some things are worth standing up for.