I’m ready for this moment. But I’ve also been worrying myself sick. Mornings are sacred for the customers who enjoy my café. Today is no different. People flood the shop instantly, lining up to get their caffeine fix. Chase turns his charm all the way up. He smiles and laughs along with the customers while manning the cash register and the coffee station. Chase never shows stress under fire, I tell everyone. He seems to have things under control, so I sneak into the backroom real fast. I have a small plate of miniature scone stuffed cones to put out. I pick up the plate and find myself staring at my baked goods. Is my invention good enough? Will people like it? Will people really like it, love it, even? Now’s the time to find out. Yep, it’s now or never. Walking to the front of the store, I hear the buzz of the customers. It’s really filling up in here. People are packing the place out. But I still pause. I will not let fear hold me back. Not today. Marching with my head held up high, I set the tray at the side of the register next to a tiny sign that reads, “Free Samples.” “Hey, look at that!” Chase says, pointing. “Who wants some free samples of our new scone stuffed cones?” I freeze. I literally just stand still. Suddenly, people are picking up the miniature cones and eating them quickly, at an almost alarming rate. I can barely believe what I’m seeing, let alone what I’m hearing: orders. People are already placing orders for the scones. “See,” Chase says, passing by me, his bright smile a major reassurance. “Told you, Leila. I told you these would be a hit.” Smiling back, I say, “Looks like you were right, Chase.” The morning crowd is settling in, taking their normal seats. Beans & More is a haven for the millennials who like to work and study away from home while enjoying a fancy caffeinated beverage and—hopefully—now a scone.
The click-clack of laptop keys is as soothing as the easy jazz playing over the stereo. This is why loving my job is so easy: people are happy, and getting them what they need makes me happy too. Or at least, almost happy. Glancing up, I see Dianna emerge from the line. She’s been a friend and loyal customer since the day of my grand opening. I really value her opinion, so I gesture to Chase to give her a stuffed scone from behind the counter. “Hey, Dianna! Oh, you changed your hair!” Dianna’s face lights up. She’s cut it shorter, with one side shaved off. Bless her, she’s trying to be hip. “Yup, I did!” “It looks lovely.” “Thank you.” “Say, Dianna, could I tempt your tummy with one of our new berry scone stuffed cones?” Chase points to the very one in the display case. He’s doing his job perfectly. “Tell you what, I’ll give it to you,” Chase melodramatically cups his hand around his mouth to whisper, “for free, darling. All you have to do is eat it and tell me and the boss lady what you honestly think.” “Really?” “Yeah, but here’s the deal—it’s just for you, ‘cause you know you’re my favorite.” “I am.” “You are.” Chase gives her the scone. I watch and wait, holding my breath. Inside, I’m chanting, Like it, like it, like it… Dianna’s first bite is careful. Slow. She taste-tests it, just in case she doesn’t like it. But then, in front of me, she takes a huge bite and her face brightens.