How We Make Something Valuable

At a nondescript coffee shop, I ordered a small steamed milk.

I had made this order here often. It would come in a paper cup. It would cost about a dollar, probably the least expensive thing they served.

The cashier rang me up. She and I chatted about the spring weather as she pulled a jug of milk up from the fridge and poured some out into a silver pitcher.

I noticed a line forming at the register and stepped back to let her work. Gently, thoughtfully, she frothed the milk, moving the pitcher up and down, down and up. Then, with a slow and even grace, she spiraled the milk into that small paper cup. There was no rush to her movements, no push to get to the higher-paying customers.

And watching her, I knew she was creating a drink worth far more than a dollar. In fact, she was showing me that how we make something valuable is by caring for it.

She put a lid on the drink and handed it to me, handed it to me like this tiny paper cup of hot milk had mattered to her.

And so I had a drink made valuable by nothing more than one woman’s care for it.

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