HomeTrendingStarbucks Worker Notices Man Acting Odd, Asks Him Life-Saving Question

Starbucks Worker Notices Man Acting Odd, Asks Him Life-Saving Question

Her usual customer walked in and she immediately noticed that something was wrong. Putting the thought out of her head, she silenced the instincts that screamed at her while she prepared his usual brew. 

She made the usual small talk with him while she worked, trying to be professional, but still, her true feelings slipped out. But what she didn’t know was that she’d just saved his life.

Vince Villano is a military veteran who lives in Washington. He had become a regular at the Starbucks branch in DuPont, his home town. His routine included ordering one thing every morning before work.

Employees got to know him through the years, knowing exactly what the retired sergeant would order each day. One day, however, one barista got a strange feeling.

Nicole Mcneil generally worked the shift where Vince came to get his coffee in the morning. Like many other regulars, she’d given him a nickname based on his coffee order. Whenever she saw Vince enter, she would begin to prepare his order before he even reached the counter. 

However, other than his regular order, Nicole didn’t know anything about Vince. She had no idea that was about to change, however.

When Vince walked into the Starbucks on one freezing January morning in 2017, Nicole immediately started to prepare his drink. 

However, when she saw him standing there, hands thrust deep into his coat pockets, she knew something was wrong. She couldn’t tell what was wrong but she knew this wasn’t normal.

Nicole had simply assumed that like most people, Vince grabbed his morning cup of coffee to help him kickstart his day. 

However, the truth was that the morning routine Vince had established was in fact necessary after a specifically bad period in his life.

In his youth, Vince had set his sights on going to the College of the Siskiyous. Known for having produced sportsmen like Dan Hawkins and Mark Acre, this California college was Vince’s dream. 

He hoped to study emergency medicine management and medicine. However, Uncle Sam had other ideas.

From his time at the college, Vince ended up in the military and in no time, ten years of his life had been devoted to the army. He moved through the ranks and became a sergeant. 

During his time in the military, Vince worked as an emergency medical technician. As a result he had seen much that still haunted him. Upon finally leaving the military, however, he decided his life needed a change.

Once he had left the military, Vince decided to open a branch of the national Farmers Insurance company. He was glad to be working a 9 to 5 job in Lakewood, Washinton.

While he thought that his days of his life being in danger were long gone, he had no idea what actually lay ahead.

Vince, like many others in his position, found it difficult to adjust to the change between being in the military and living a normal civilian life. That was why he decided to establish the morning routine he followed, which included his morning coffee.

Little did Vince or Nicole know that one simple question was about to change both their lives.

Nicole had studied at Stadium High School, located in Tacoma. She believed that she was destined to do great things. She went on to study a construction management degree at the University of Washington which she completed in 2005. 

She also met the man who would be her husband, who happened to have something in common with Vince.

Nicole had three children with her husband, Justin McNeil. Justin had also served and had reached the rank of sergeant before leaving the military. 

Nicole had no idea that Vince, one of her regular customers, and her husband had so much in common.

Nicole had only been working at the Starbucks for three years, which meant that while she didn’t know Vince very well, she did know his order and his routine due to being the one who served him every morning. 

What neither of them realized was that this put Nicole in a very unique position.

Due to the fact that she got to deal with so many people every day, Nicole quickly became attuned to her customers.

She’d pick up on things like body language, changes in their moods, etc. It was this awareness that caused her to realize that something was wrong that day.

Nicole later went on to explain on Starbucks’ official website: “As a barista, we can really tell when our customers are sad and when they’re hurting.”

And the extraordinarily perceptive barista and mother-of-three was the first to notice her regular customer’s gloomy expression on that fateful day in 2017.

On one particularly cold morning, Nicole’s shift behind the counter was almost over. Luckily, she still had time to serve her regular customer, Vince.

Having known him for years, she was familiar with his usual demeanor and how he usually behaved throughout the week. According to Nicole, Vince’s expression rarely changed.

In an interview with MailOnline, Nicole revealed more details about how Vince’s daily visits went: “Even when he seemed happy, he always looked a bit glum,” she recalled. 

“And [he] wanted to just get his coffee and go.” But one morning, Vince’s face looked different. On that day, he wasn’t his “glum” self. There was much more to it than that…

After she prepared Vince’s usual “30-ounce vanilla cold brew with extra vanilla,” Nicole decided to ask him a question. “Is everything OK?” She asked, genuinely concerned about her regular customer’s wellbeing.

But Vince seemed reluctant to open up. Nicole, undeterred, pressed him for an answer. But she never expected her question to result in one of the most significant exchanges of her life.

“I said, ‘I’m off in 15 to 20 minutes, we can sit down for half an hour and chat before I pick up my kids,’” Nicole told MailOnline. 

“When I asked [Vince], he said, ‘It would take too long to tell you.’ I said, ‘I actually do have the time today’.” And so, Vince began to tell the barista what was troubling him.

So Vince started to talk. Nicole quickly discovered that Vince was a veteran, but was surprised to learn that Vince’s problem wasn’t about the transition from soldier to civilian.

It was about something far less psychological.

But it was just as complicated: Vince had Polycystic Kidney Disease, a genetic condition that causes cyst-ridden kidneys to enlarge and shut down. 

It was a condition that plagued Vince’s family — one of his great-grandparents had passed away from it. The disease can cause some serious complications, from high blood pressure to kidney failure.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website: “Polycystic kidney disease is an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within your kidneys. [They cause] your kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time.

Cysts are noncancerous round sacs containing fluid.” The description continues: “The cysts vary in size, and they can grow very large.”

“When I was first diagnosed, I felt like, ‘Well, I’m dying,’” Vince recalled on the Starbucks website. “It was not my first encounter with mortality.

I had some situations in the military. But this was really out of my control. There’s nothing you can do. It’s kind of a black cloud that hangs over your head all the time.”

By 2016, Vince was on a debilitating dialysis machine. In the days leading up to his talk with Nicole, he had been told by doctors that he needed a kidney transplant — and that getting one was a matter of life and death.

Vince’s story stayed with Nicole for the rest of the day. That evening, she lay down with her husband and told him about her regular customer’s predicament. Then, Justin made a suggestion.

Nicole told MailOnline, “Right away, [Justin] said, ‘Well, I have a kidney. He can have mine.’ It doesn’t surprise me. He’s that generous and that kind – and it doesn’t surprise any of our friends who’ve heard about this.

They’re like, ‘Of course Justin would do this’.” “I invited [Vince] to my birthday party,” she revealed. “And then he started coming over for parties on the holidays, and then he and Justin started hanging out on their own.”

It wasn’t long before Vince had become part of Nicole’s family. She smiled when she saw how well Vince and her husband were hitting it off. Their three children loved Vince, too. 

Even though Vince was aware of Justin’s offer, he had his doubts. He knew the chances of Justin being a match were incredibly slim. But, despite this, Justin underwent all the necessary tests. He prayed that he would be a match…

“Testing to see if you can donate a kidney begins with a blood test,” the Alina Health website says on its website. “The test will determine your blood type and if it will match the recipient’s blood.

If your blood type is compatible with the recipient, two more blood tests will be done (tissue typing and cross-matching).” The process lasted 12 months, after which Justin received some incredible news.

The results confirmed that Justin was indeed a match! Without wasting time, the procedure was scheduled for December 26 — the day after Justin’s 36th birthday. And Justin had no regrets. Justin said, “I felt like (offering to donate) was a pretty easy answer. There wasn’t a lot of thinking about it.

It was let’s do this. I can do that if I got two, right? I can give one so that was it. In the end, it really is a life-or-death question. And so it makes it a non-question.”

When the time finally came, Vince and Justin were rolled into the operating room to complete the procedure. Nicole was ecstatic when she learned that the transplant was a success, making an announcement later that day.

For Vince, receiving a new kidney meant that his life would be extended by 20 years, at the very least.


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