I live in Montana, a red state with a deep core of Trump supporters. While my town has become a trendy mountain destination with residents who hold varying political views, just 15 minutes west of here is a more traditionally Montana spot: Trump banners hang from porches and Second Amendment bumper stickers are stuck on bumpers. The coffee shop I work at is a humble spot on the conservative side of town. Some of our regulars carry pistols tucked into their waistbands. Some spend their weekends at survivalist conventions and firearm trade shows.
Their views are markedly different than mine, but I love this space, and my twice-weekly barista gig provides a reprieve from my freelance hours spent home alone in front of a computer. We are a small crew, and we know our regulars like friends. The job of a barista at this shop is to brew coffee and toast breakfast sandwiches, but it’s also to make our customers’ days better with cross-counter chat, a free day-old pastry, or some friendly keeping up with what’s going on in their lives.
One had hip surgery. Another traveled across Montana to see his grandchildren compete in a rodeo. We follow up on the surgery, we ask about the rodeo. We know their orders, and we recognize their trucks in the parking lot. I’ve always overheard snippets of political chatter from our regulars, but I ignored it. We had political differences, but they just wanted to drink coffee and talk to their friends, and I was happy to be in the pleasant environment the shop was known for.