Many of my undergrad evenings were spent hunkered down in the cushy green armchair at the coffee shop “College Drip.”

Sure, it sounds like something you cure with a shot of penicillin, but it served exceptional espresso, played great indie-rock, and was a refuge for the uber-geeky and 90s alternative scene. Tucked between a popular campus bar and a cheap Chinese food joint, it’s where I’d pretend to study when really I was obsessing over life after graduation – or daydreaming about robot grandmas that dispense milk from their fingertips.

“Don’t worry,” Eve said. “Seventy percent of college students change their major at some point during college.”

Eve was a whippet-thin barista with a cascade of skull tattoos lacing her arms. She’d worked at College Drip since the mid-80s when she quit school to concentrate on her band appropriately named “Downward Mobility.”

“I probably skewed that statistic,” I mumbled. “I’ve changed my major three times.”

“Let me guess,” she hummed. “You wanted to be—”

“—an astronaut,” I said, finishing her sentence.

Eve laughed.

“Don’t laugh,” I said. “I have all the qualifications. My standing height is between 62 and 75 inches.  I have 20/20 vision. And, I eat G-forces for breakfast.”

“When have you pulled a G?”

“Um, hello,” I chimed, raising my hands. “Once at Six Flags I daringly turned upside down on the Spindletop.”

“Okay, that counts,” Eve agreed with a smile.

“But NASA only selects nine applicants from a pool of 4,000. The odds weren’t in my favor so I gave up.”

Eve continued to listen as she picked up empty coffee cups from around the shop.

“Then I totally crushed on my parasitology professor. Logically, I believed I could spend the rest of my life studying tapeworms, roundworms, and flukes. Until the day he left the room for five minutes and returned with a ‘hot stool’ sample for macroscopic examination.”

“Eww,” she said, wrinkling her nose in disgust.

While another student placed an order, I sat quietly with the folder of letters in my lap. I knew each letter by heart now. “Congratulations,” they began.

“Here, take a look at this,” I said, before handing her one of the acceptance letters. I fiddled with the strap of my corduroy overalls while she read.

“Law school? You’re going to law school?”

“I did that externship at the DA’s office and loved it. . . . But I don’t know,” I sighed.

“What do you mean you don’t know? Why wouldn’t you?”

“Let’s see,” I said, counting the reasons on my fingers. “Crazy expensive. Abysmal job market. Everyone thinks lawyers are evil—”

“—Those people who handle insurance claims,” Eve said. “They’re evil.”

“What if I get there and hate it? Even worse, what if I pile up all that debt, suck as a lawyer and then can’t repay it?” I banged the folder of letters against my head. “I’m not even old enough to drink! How am I supposed to make this decision?”

“Listen,” Eve said, placing a hand on my shoulder, “if you start to worry, that’s your alarm to pray about it.”

I didn’t say anything as I took my cup, lifted it to my lips, and sipped the last of my drink. I never took her for someone who prayed.

“Now get out of here before you start sprouting roots in our chair. And eat something. You look like a Blow Pop!”

I reluctantly took Eve’s advice and went next door for Chinese.

It was often mayhem in the small restaurant but tonight it was quiet – just a few students and a girl studying organic chemistry behind the counter. The smell was incredible though, and my stomach sprang to life. I ordered a big plate of Mu Shu Pork and chose the booth with the prettiest fake flowers.

Tired of myself, my eyes focused on the billowing red-and-gold Chinese dragon that hung from the ceiling.

Pray about it.” Eve’s words rang in my head.

But He’s got a universe to run.

“Pray about it.”

So I did.

I didn’t feel any better though.

After shoving the letters into my backpack I reached for the crunchy golden fortune cookie on the table. I tore open the plastic wrapping and broke the cookie in two, eating the first bit while staring blankly at the water dripping from my ice tea glass. I pulled out the thin, white sheet of paper.

My breath stopped as my brain processed the message:


I kept that fortune in my wallet for years. When I’d hit low moments in my career or find myself wondering if I made the right decision to become a lawyer, I’d take that fortune out. It was a reminder that – from on High – this is what I’m supposed to do.

Unfortunately, during our last move I “put it somewhere safe” and lost it. But I’m not worried. It’ll turn up again.

If I ever need it to.


And if you don’t believe this story, it’s a shame. You probably don’t believe in robot grandmas that can pour milk from their fingertips either.