The Day I Accidentally Evacuated Starbucks

Once I accidentally evacuated a Starbucks.

Okay, it wasn’t an accident that I did it but it was accidental I had the authority to pull it off. As it happened, I was enjoying some quiet in a window seat at the coffee shop when the fire alarm went off.

Initially, I reacted like everyone else in the place. I continued about my business and assumed momentarily the staff would turn it off. They didn’t.

After about sixty seconds, I realized people were staring at me. When I realized why, I knew I had to act. You see, I was wearing one of my dad’s old winter coats. Boldly emblazoned on it in gold is the symbol of his fire department and the word, “Chief.” To them, I wasn’t just an everyday citizen stupidly ignoring a warning of potential danger, I represented the people who take charge in these kind of circumstances.

I’m normally someone who prefers not to be noticed by strangers, plus I’m assertiveness-challenged (I would apply for sticker for my car but I’m afraid to ask for the application). Suddenly, though, I wasn’t representing just myself but the fire department. They were waiting for me to move.

This emboldened me to act. By now, the baristas were also looking at me! I stood, gathered my things, and in a voice laden with assumed authority I stated, “Everyone, calmly make your way to an exit. I’m sure the trucks will be here shortly.”

And they listened! The alarm continued to scream. It was then I also realized I couldn’t run out first (how would that look?). So, again, not wanting to besmirch the fire department (stinking coat!), I hung back until everyone else exited. By then (thank you, Jesus), the fire department had arrived.

The chief took one look at me, recognized me as Dad’s daughter, and barked, “Lori! Did you evacuate this building?”

I indicated the coat, “Kinda had to.”

He laughed. “Excellent work!”

I dashed to my car and high-tailed it out of there.

Years earlier, I’d also acted against my own nature because of what (who) I represent. I worked at a runaway shelter in Providence and it was a late night shift change from second to third shift staff. I had just reported to the other two adults that one of our residents had returned from a visit with his mentor (a self-identified warlock in a local coven) acting unusually subdued, when suddenly, screams erupted from the main room.

The aforementioned resident’s room-mate, a hulk size young man, normally very calm, was suddenly throwing furniture and yelling murderous threats. We acted quickly to get the other residents together with us in another room and asked the panic-stricken roommate what had set him off.

He started babbling. “Look. I tried one of these hair-brained spells on him but they’re not real!” The blood-curdling howl from outside the door indicated otherwise.

None of us knew what to do with THAT information but we had to do something and now we realized, too late, that we’d separated ourselves from the phone (this was long before cell phones.)

“One of us has to go out there and call the police and rescue.” The other woman on staff stated as we heard more crashes in the main room and the resident crying out in an unintelligible language.

The guy who worked with us took a step back. “Don’t assume it’s going to be me, just because I’m guy. I whole-heartedly support feminism. I like it just fine in here.”

That’s when the woman looked straight at me and said, “It really should be you, you know. You’re the Christian. That’s some weird stuff going on out there but you’re supposed to be all protected by Jesus and everything. You’re the one who has to get out there.”

And I realized she was right. I was a twenty-something Baptist and my lifetime of Sunday School classes hadn’t touched on demon possession but, I did know I represented Jesus and Jesus would volunteer to go.

Internally, I prayed. I don’t remember the exact words but it probably sounded something like “Okay, it sure wouldn’t look good to this crowd if I walk out there and die before I reach the phone. Please walk out there with me and keep me safe, Jesus. I have no idea what I’m doing but you do. Amen.”

As I stepped across the threshold, I heard the girl staff say to the guy, “You need to man up and follow her.”

“Why me?” he replied. “I’m no Christian!”

“Yeah, but if Jesus protects her and you’re with her, you’ll be fine, too. But if something happens to her, you need to run back and tell us we’re still trapped.”

She was a very pragmatic girl. Probably went on to win a season of Survivor.

Obviously, I survived. And if you ever worry what you’d do if you found yourself in a strange situation, don’t. I was emboldened by Jesus. I did find words I didn’t know I knew to instruct the wild young man who was sitting calmly by the front door when the police arrived.

In the first story, I assumed authority I didn’t actually have. In the second story, I discovered the authority that is mine (and yours) in Jesus.

We all struggle with our own stuff but we’re capable of setting that “stuff” aside when we remember we represent the Almighty God. The apostle Paul said it this way, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV

Next time all eyes are on you, remember you’re dressed in your Father’s clothing.  You represent Jesus. Act accordingly.


You want to be effective in your faith. You want to slay giants. You’ll want to read this book! Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life)

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    The Conversation

  1. Excellent and clear insights I can use today. Thank you.

  2. As usual, I loved this. You go!

  3. Amazing stories, Thank you for sharing. I love how your coworkers knew the power of Jesus. You allowed them to see it first hand. God is so good.

  4. Thanks for sharing those great experiences–so encouraging. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV).