“I like you. You look nice, and you make good eye contact. I’ll get back with you.”

It was one of my first real job interviews. Like, one that my parents didn’t drive me to. I’d heard it was hard to get a job here, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I needed a job, and I didn’t have a car, so it had to be on campus. And while there were plenty of jobs on this campus, I wanted this one: The Underground Café. I didn’t really even like coffee.

A few weeks later I was standing behind the counter repeating each customer’s drink so I could figure out what went in it. “Grande skinny hazelnut mocha latte.” Grande is medium, skinny means skim milk, mocha means chocolate, latte means milk and espresso, oh, and hazelnut…where’s that bottle? I felt the learning curve—apologies to the guy whose Chai Tea latte I accidentally put espresso in that one time—but eventually I didn’t have to repeat every order.

The Underground Café was a renovated storage area literally built into a hill (hence “underground”) on the campus of Clarks Summit University. (When I was there it was Baptist Bible College—yeah, now I get to say things like “back in my day…”) I learned a lot at the Underground, though ironically, drinking coffee wasn’t one of them—that was the accomplishment of my second job, where I couldn’t keep my eyes open after lunch.

I became my own person on the Clarks Summit University campus; college’ll do that to you. I learned a lot, of course (that’s the point of college!), but more importantly, my spiritual formation happened through relationships with students, coworkers, faculty, and staff at CSU. That’s the development I don’t have words for.

I graduated in 2012, leaving the Underground Café and the CSU campus behind me. But this mug tells a small, yet significant part of my story. And now…it (finally?) holds coffee.

Monday Mugs is where I tell the stories behind my coffee mugs. Each one holds a story (and coffee, of course) of somewhere I’ve been or something I’ve seen. The photos are my actual mugs, not lookalikes found online. So grab one of your own mugs (fill it with coffee first) and hear the stories of mine. And don’t forget the cream and sugar.

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