I was third in line to buy coffee from Lina when she noticed me. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! What a beautiful surprise!” she yelled over the other customers.
It had been three weeks since the article ran and I wasn’t sure if she knew my story about her had appeared in the paper. Maybe it was just me managing my own expectations, but I assumed that not a lot of people had read it. I am laughing now as I found out that I was dead wrong.
When the line died down, Lina ran out of her cart and hugged me. I handed her the framed article, and she went on and on about what happened after the story ran. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me.
*I want to apologize for the terrible quality of this picture. I am not sure what I was thinking.*
In addition to a noticeable uptick in customers, people from all around the city have taken time out of their day to seek her out. I am still in shock over this.
Lina freaked out at first when strangers started coming up to her cart, asking: “Are you Lina?” She said she was sure that each inquirer was there to tell her something bad had happened to her son. Luckily, that was not the case.
Some strangers have stopped by to give her a hard copy of the article, and some just to meet her. The day I stopped by, a husband and wife had come from the financial district to meet her and give her one of the original papers the story appeared in.
I thought that was impressive until she told me that a few days earlier, a woman had traveled from two hours away in New Jersey just to meet her. This made me speechless.
As we chatted for 30 minutes, she introduced me to all of her customer’s coming by, and I stood there, blown away with how she never had to ask any of them what they wanted.
They were all so excited that she ended up in the Times, and thanked me for doing it. Everyone expressed how much they love her. This woman is a superstar.
She said to me, “I didn’t know that anyone ever felt that way about me”, meaning how much they appreciated the value she added to their days.
I said, “That’s why they come to you every day! They love you.”
She replied, “But all I do is serve coffee. It’s no big deal.”
I said, “It’s a big deal. You’re a big deal.”
Lina closed up shop for a moment and took me across the street to meet her husband, who runs his own coffee-cart. He ran to his van and handed me three boxes of Danishes to share with my co-workers. He thanked me for writing about Lina.
As Lina and I walked back to her cart, she told me that the article was the greatest gift she had ever received in her entire life. “You changed my life”, she said.
Then she hugged me goodbye.
She asked for my email address and told me she wants me to come visit more often. I agreed.
Lina was on cloud nine, and so was I.
I waved goodbye and walked towards the 6 train with three huge boxes of Danishes and an iced coffee. Hurrying, as I was running late for work.
To be continued…