My Favorite Stranger: Angelique

I’ve been coming here for awhile. Months actually. When I made the big move to Fargo last December, someone in the community introduced me to this place. Atomic Coffee has felt like home ever since. At first, I’d visit rain—I mean blizzard—or shine to fill out what felt like an unending list of job applications, edit wedding photos until my eyes fell out, or to simply pretend I wasn’t totally alone in a brand new city.

Eventually, as my mother said it would, everything began to fall into place. I met friends, landed a full-time gig, and rode the school bus all on my own. I kid about the last part. But with each new experience, I continued to silently thank Atomic for its serene culture and the peace of mind I gained when I stopped by.

My favorite thing about Atomic, despite what you may have guessed, wasn’t the delicious Asiago cheese-topped bagels I enjoyed for breakfast or the Atomic Bomb drink (coffee with a shot of espresso) that got me through the day.

Angelique quickly became my favorite part of this particular coffee shop.

No Bullshit Kinda Gal

You know the reassurance you get when something is familiar? The kind of comfort you feel when you find something that makes you feel close to home? The satisfaction you receive in knowing that someone might notice if you’re brutally murdered in a city away from home? Angelique became all of those for me.

At first glance, her edgy dark hair highlighted with turquoise was intimidating. She looked like the no-bullshit-get-shit-done kinda gal. Turns out, she was.

Come spring, my coworker and good friend, Ryan, and I made Atomic a part of our morning ritual. Every so often, on days that required caffeine most—like unbearable Mondays—we’d venture out of the office to grab a coffee. Ryan, being predictable, would always have his drink waiting for him. The second Angelique spotted him walking through the door, her magic fairy hands went to work, placing his coffee on the counter before he could even smell the aroma of fresh-ground beans in the air. I, on the other hand, ordered something different each time, but always iced, which made sense… in the summer. It’s nearly winter now… and Angelique has still never (openly) judged me.

Because Ryan and I were a male and female duo of the same age, Angelique quickly assumed we were lovers, which became the best part of our coffee runs. Not because I had wished that we were, but because of the expectations associated with couples. Soon enough, Ryan was paying for my coffee so he didn’t look like a dickhead of a boyfriend. Thanks Angelique, that worked out well for me.

Eventually the leaves turned, and Ryan revealed he’d be moving to chase his dreams in Cali “when September ends.” Soon enough, I was making coffee runs on my own… but Angelique managed to keep things interesting.

The confidence she displayed behind the counter was exhilarating. I noticed this even more so the day I witnessed her stand her ground. After a possibly-drunk, maybe-drug-ridden patron in the coffee shop spent an extensive amount of time crying out next to me, Angelique came to the rescue. With patience and the tone of a well-educated therapist, she calmed the customer, but not after enduring some derogatory insults. You should have seen her. While I was quivering in the corner, trying not to upset said crazy person, she was solving problems—fierce and friendly all at the same time. How did she do that?

You must know, I determined months ago that Angelique had made the list of my favorite strangers. But with every interaction, she revealed more and more of her character. I couldn’t help but wait to see the many facets of her personality unfold before I shared this amazing person with the rest of you.

Patience Virtue

So Angelique, thank you. Thank you for being the happy badass I aspire to be on Monday mornings (or any morning for that matter) when the world and fate tells me otherwise. I’ll likely see you in the morning—you, kickin’ ass and me, trying to figure out just one more way to order an iced coffee drink. It’s a given you’ll be smiling and using the virtue you’ve mastered: patience. (God knows I could use a shot of that.)

Loving Angelique? Read about Becky, Traci, Carrie, Jeff and his coworkers, the Schiavo family and friends, and the Arizona boys—my other favorite strangers.

Feature photo via

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