Coffee Shop Courage

The other night my husband, teenage son and I watched the latest episode of Under The Dome. When it was over, my husband grabbed the remote control to look for something else to watch. The movie, We Bought a Zoo, appeared on a channel.

“Oh that’s a great movie! Let’s watch it!” I said.

I have never seen two males scatter to other areas of the house so quickly. And I don’t understand what they don’t like about the movie. It has an all-star cast. I mean, Scarlett Johansson is in it. The kid from Under The Dome is in it. How bad could it be for a guy to watch?

Very bad, apparently.

So I got to watch it by myself and I remembered one of my favorite things about the movie. It’s when the dad, played by Matt Damon, tells his teenage son, “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

Image via Jose Hernandez at Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Jose Hernandez at Flickr Creative Commons

Isn’t that a great line? Because it’s so true. Think of how many things we avoid in life because of fear. How many relationships never took off because we never had the guts to tell the other person how we felt. How many raises we never received because we were too scared to ask for one.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to witness the aftermath of someone’s insane courage. I was sitting in a coffee shop with my son waiting for a frozen drink. I think they forgot about our drink, which was okay for a while because it allowed us to eavesdrop on two men. They were sitting across a table from each other bent over a cell phone talking to someone on speaker.

One of the men was really worked up and excited. He told the person on the cell phone, “So I sent him an email, and I told him all of the things I would need. Number one: I need you to stop bashing me behind my back. Number two: I need you to support my efforts publicly. Number three: I need a raise. Because I am well qualified to get this company through this audit and I can do an excellent job.”

The person on the cell phone said, “Wow.”

Then the first man said, “Percentage-wise, what do you think my chances are?”

The cell phone guy hemmed and hawed.

“Really, give me a number,” the first guy persisted.

The cell phone guy still didn’t want to respond. Finally they took him off speaker. I don’t know what the cell phone guy said – probably a low number – because the first guy responded, “It doesn’t matter anyway. My office is cleaned out. So either way.”

You could tell this guy felt like he had been taking crap from his boss for a long time. And he’d finally found the guts to tell him how he felt. It was only an email, but still, he seemed like he was on top of the world. I glanced at him and noticed that he could not stop smiling. His friend was equally animated.

The guy may be out of a job now, but I have a feeling his self-esteem is higher this week than it was last week. Hopefully that will help him find a better job where he can apply his newly discovered courage.

I’ll be pulling for him.


6 thoughts on “Coffee Shop Courage

  1. I loved the movie “We Bought a Zoo.” My wife and I saw it during one of our getaway weekends to Nevada. Now, to appreciate this properly, you need to remember that we live in the middle of the desert, where the nearest movie theater is an hour and a half away. (Actually, we do have a two-screen movie theater here in town. It went out of business three years ago and has been for sale since then.) When we hit civilization, it is always tough to choose just one or two movies to see. We made a good choice that time, and I agree that the line about “twenty seconds of insane courage” is a classic. What is often forgotten is that the reverse is true as well. There are many who live with regrets and wish they hadn’t mustered the courage in that one moment to do what changed their lives irretrievably, lives they now wish they had back. There are two sides to everything. (Although the downside is not nearly as exciting, and those sufficiently uncouth to mention it tend to be deemed downers, defeatists and pessimists.)


    • Wow – I can’t imagine living so far out in the desert! I bet it’s beautiful. I think you are so right about there being two sides. Maybe that guy will forever regret speaking up. But I’m going to go with no, he has gained more respect for himself which will help him going forward. I love creating narratives for people I don’t know! 🙂


      • Fortunately, our desert days have now come to a close. We will be moving out of the area five days hence. After three years in purgatory where it is regularly 115 degrees for more than half the year, I am pleased that we are returning to a more temperate climate. I only wish I didn’t have to get laid off at work to do it.


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