How Gas Station Coffee Saved My Sanity

The clock on my dashboard read 6:17 AM. I didn’t bother to look at the temperature on my screen since my windows were frosted over.  I hadn’t slept well in three nights, I had more deadlines to meet than I could remember, and worst of all my gas tank was on empty. Of course I noticed this as I backed out of my driveway. 

I pulled into the gas station all I could think about was how bad I wanted to get to the airport as soon as possible; a fact that was made worse by the fact that the gas pump kept rejecting my credit card. Remind me again how chips on cards are supposed to make life easier?

I filled my tank and grumbled my way into the store to pay.  

The lineup at the register was unusually long and instead of cursing out loud (like I wanted to do), I decided to walk a lap around the premises. That’s when the aroma of coffee caught my attention. For a moment I was relaxed and dare I even say calm?

I staggered towards the five large carafes and took another whiff. I then glanced at the titles of the different coffee flavors. 

There was hazelnut, dark Columbian roast, Sumatran Medley, and premium decaf (two words that should never go together).  I began to wonder if the coffee really came from Sumatra. And what about it made it a blend? They never mentioned what they were blending with Sumatra.  And did the Columbian coffee come from Columbia? Would Juan Valdez and his crazy mule appear behind me if I purchased it?  

And then….

I laughed….

Loud enough for others to hear. 

I didn’t care.

It felt good.

I hadn’t laughed in a long time.  I decided to treat myself to a large and delicious cup of Sumatran blend with a splash of premium decaf and topped with Coffeemate’s finest French vanilla creamer that came from an enormous dispenser. I tried not to think about how long the creamer had sat there.  All of it for the fabulous price of $1.09.  

As an added bonus if I bought five cups I’d get the next one free.

And just like that a new addiction (and tradition) was born.  These days, every early morning that I fill up my tank I get the gas station coffee. I’ve earned 4 free cups since I started this.

I don’t know why reading coffee titles sparked my creative mind and made me giggle like a high schooler but it did. For me it has become an important ritual; a way of giving thanks for making me laugh and reminding me that life doesn’t always have to be so serious.

It’s a ritual I look forward too even though the coffee isn’t what most would consider drinkable.

Every time I select and create a caffeinated concoction I find that my long morning drive is more enjoyable and I experience better inner peace. 

HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR GAS STATION COFFEE?

Our lives can be stressful and complicated and in that grind we sometimes create processes and expectations that are toxic or at the very least, keep us away from happiness and self-care.  It is important we create rituals and processes that center us and bring us to the happy place. 

It doesn’t have to be coffee. It can be an exercise routine, watching a show that you love, or a call with a family member or friend who knows how to supercharge your happiness. 

But whatever it is, guard it fiercely and visit it often.

I think my tank is empty again. Time for another cup.

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Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths. 

For more information visit www.paulartale.com

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