fragment of a diary of a former customer service employee As a former customer service employee at a ritzy coffeeshop, I turned to insight meditation as a way of managing my reaction to the delusions weighing upon my customer's minds. Â I often observed my customers listening to what seemed to be "an inner voice" that told them they were happier and so logically better or "higher" than me because they had complex, high-paying jobs, not a simple service job such as I had. Â They seemed to think their financial situation made them invulnerable to suffering. Â And they seemed to use me as a contrast, as a yardstick to measure the distance they had traveled. Â This dynamic fascinated me. Â I was under the assumption that suffering takes whatever form it needs to, and that no one is free of it. Â But on my hands each day was a crowd of rich folks who thought they had made it to the other side, Nirvana, if you will. Â So I kept my ear to the ground and waited for the ice to crack. Allow me to tell a story: One day I was working at the coffeeshop, happily brewing away, when a woman in her thirties in gold and diamonds entered the store with her 4-year-old daughter in tow. "The owner just called and said my mug is here," the woman said. Â "I want my mug." Weeks earlier, the woman had specially ordered a special mug in blue with little speckles in it that fit perfectly in to the cup holder of her Volvo. Â It was a special mug in a special color for her special car. Â I went to the back office and found what I thought was it. Â When she saw it in my hands she reached out and said, "That's the one. Â That's it. Â That's my mug." Â She seemed awfully happy, but a bit rushed. Â She wanted a decaf latte, extra hot, no foam. Â "Do you want it in your mug?" I asked. Â "Sure-sure," she said. Â "But make it fast." I was happy to serve. Â But first, I wanted to wash the mug. Â You never know, the way those things are packed. Â So I took it in the back and washed it, sanitized it, and on my way out front the mug slipped right out of my hands and shattered on the floor. The woman was already writing her check. Â I couldn't say anything. Â I tried I'm sorry. Â But the woman looked like someone had just kicked her between the legs. Â She started screaming, "Was that my mug. Â Was that my mug." She wasn't asking, she was yelling. Â Her daughter cried out, and the woman told her to shut up and swatted her. I looked down at Humpty Dumpty. Â What else could I do? Â I could give her the same mug in black. Â In white. Â But another blue mug with speckles would take weeks to arrive. The woman grabbed her daughter's arm and stormed out of the coffeeshop. Â She tore off in her Volvo. Â In the months that followed, a Starbucks opened in town, the coffeeshop began to lose money, I quit and started traveling in hot third world countries with tip money I'd saved. Â When I returned to America I noted the coffeeshop had closed. Â No one was using the space for another business. Â The owner was divorced and living in another city. Â All we have seems so real. Â But it is not who we are.