March 3, 2016

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is a common, if not slightly overused proverbial phrase. It's meant to encourage optimism in the face of adversity, or as the case may be, in everyday life. Lately, optimism in my neighborhood is catching. It may be thanks to the warmer weather and the hints of Spring, but nonetheless, And appreciated.

Welcome back: The day is overcast and cool, and the cafe is momentarily calm. It's a popular place, and often they are slammed with breakfast orders from tourists or conference-goers all wearing matching lanyards. I usually stop in a few times a week, and the staff mostly knows my order. When it's not too busy, they'll say "Have a beautiful day," as they hand over my latte. On this quiet morning, the manager makes my drink without asking and says, "Hey, you haven't been here in awhile.

Out of everything: My daughter wants a smoothie, but Starbucks is out of bananas. They ask if we mind blueberries, and I say no. But then it turns out they're out of strawberries, too, so how do we feel about a mango-carrot concoction, bolstered with blueberries? Frankly, it sounds strange, but I have a hungry toddler in tow, set on a smoothie. Also, I'm internally grateful for the addition of a vegetable in her day. When the inventive drink is ready, the barista comes out from behind the counter and walks it out to us. Even though the smoothie pleases the child, the barista is genuinely sorry they didn't have what we wanted. She offers a card for a free drink on them, next time.

You're lucky you got me: In San Francisco, there's a bag tax. Every shopping bag costs ten cents. It's not a big deal unless you forget to ask for one, and then need to root around your purse for a dime, which you may or may not have. Today I've ordered party supplies online from Target and have to pick them up at my local store. When I get to the customer service counter, the girl does not hand me my order. Instead, she tells me I paid too much online, re-rings my purchases, and hands them over in a bag. Yes, I forgot a bag and a dime. "You're lucky you got me," she says, "I don't like to charge for them."

Life and lemons: My daughter's preschool has a garden where they grow tomatoes and lemons, among other things. The preschool director sometimes has a bucket of lemons at the door for parents to dip into. One morning the children have found the lemons, and I'm greeted at the door by many small, outstretched hands, each child eagerly wanting to gift their lemon. I look to the preschool director, and she smiles and shrugs and says, "Take them." There are more lemons than I can carry. I walk back to my car with a smile, at how literal it is, life giving me lemons. The only reasonable thing to do is to go home and make lemonade.

Read more articles from our In the moment series—(Un)common courtesy and The blinders are off—and share your own experience in the comments below.

Suzanne Barnecut is a content marketer for Zendesk and a frequent contributor to Relate. Fascinated by technology, but a diehard reader of paper-made books and sender of snail mail. Find her on Twitter: @elisesuz.