December 2019

Many years ago, at the last minute, my schedule worked out on Christmas Eve, where I could go home for the holidays. I wasn’t planning to do so, but at the last possible moment I made a mad dash for the airport. Thinking LaGuardia was going to be a zoo, I decided to get there a couple of hours early. To my surprise It wasn’t crowded at all, so for me, that meant COFFEE!

So, I get down into my terminal, terminal D, and I zero in on the coffee shop. I get in line. So, it’s my turn to order, and I was greeted with this very warm and sincere welcome. This woman said to me, “Hi, my name’s Lily. What’s your name?” I said, “I’m Joe.” She said, “Joe, what can I make for you today?” I said, “Well, I just want a black coffee with a bit of cinnamon in it (flavored coffee was a new thing back then – no exotic Pumpkin Spice Latte’s).” She said, “You want whipped cream on that, don’t you?” I said, “Yeah. Yeah, I want the whip cream.” She said, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to make it extra hot, load it with whipped cream, and also sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. You’re going to love it.” I said, “Sounds great.” She said, “So where are you going?” I said, “Orlando”. She said, “Are you going back to Orlando to spend the holiday with your family?” I said, “Yes.”

I’m thinking to myself, is this girl coming on to me – I was much younger and better looking in those days… 

At this point I start looking around for the camera, right? I mean, I’m trying to get a quick cup of coffee. So, I move down the line, and the conversation continues, and she’s funny. She’s asking me questions about my family and our holiday traditions. She’s laughing and I’m laughing, and she hands me my drink and says to me, “Joe, have a safe trip to Orlando. Go create some extraordinary memories with your family. When you come back through LaGuardia, I want you to stop here and tell me about it.”

Whaaaaaaaat?  Is this a joke?

I get my coffee, I start walking away, and I stop, and I look back at this woman. And I think to myself, “you know it’s…it’s Christmas Eve. Most people would rather be anywhere else in the world than serving coffee in an airport.” Not her.  Not Lily. It was like she was meant to be there, and I couldn’t help myself, I had to go back. So, I did.

I walked back and said, “Excuse me, Lily?” She looks up, smiles, and says “Joe, is everything okay with your coffee?” I said, “Yes, it’s perfect. I just had to come back and ask you, what is your secret to making such meaningful connections over serving coffee?” Well, she corrected me, “I’m not serving coffee. I’m pouring happiness into people’s lives.” I said, “you’re pouring what?” She says, “I want to be happy in my life, and one of the ways to do that is to choose, even on Christmas Eve to smile, to have fun, to help people, to just be happy.” 

You know, it’s interesting. When I met Lily, and she would have no way of knowing this, but I was pretty heavy in the heart, and had a lot on my mind. About 3 months before that holiday, I got a call from my mom, and she told me my dad had cancer, and while he likely had a few years, it was a terminal diagnosis. So, I was sitting in the airport on Christmas Eve, not in the best place in the world, feeling a bit sad.  And then I met Lily. 

I will never forget that cup of coffee, and I will never forget about Lily, at least at this time of year. 
So as we celebrate the miracle of the season, may your heart be filled with joy and peace, no matter what your circumstances might be. May these holiday blessings linger in your home and stay with you throughout the year. 

From all of us at 78Madison, we wish you the best Holiday season and a great 2020.

Joe Bouch
CEO, 78Madison