The Vanishing Woman at Starbucks

Recently, I tried checking all my archives of everything I’d ever written online. I was looking for my experience with the old woman at a Starbucks in Redondo Beach. And, I may have told the story on the RBJ forums, but I guess I never told it here…

…or, perhaps that story mysteriously disappeared like the old woman at Starbucks?

The year was 1999. The first part of the year (I forget which month).

The big band, Big Time Operator, had been on a short tour through the Los Angeles area. And one night we ended up performing at a nightclub in Redondo Beach.

It was an interesting night, because the legendary rock artist Dave Mason was performing before us that night. So, we were early and had to wait awhile before he finished his set.

Three of us, trumpeter Mike Bogart (who had performed with Maynard Ferguson and now performs with Tower of Power), Jim Weiss (a busy saxophonist in San Diego) and myself… we walked across the street to a nearby Starbucks to get some espressos and coffee.

Once inside, we ordered our drinks and sat at this long countertop on stools, facing the window and looking outside.

After a few minutes, an old woman walked in. She was dressed in white and carrying a metal basket on wheels, pulling it along behind her. She wore an old hat and her face looked wrinkled and care-worn. She looked extremely old (perhaps in her 90s) and her face had the look of anguish. As if suffering from some emotional or physical pain, or both.

She slowly walked passed us and I noticed that all three of us couldn’t help but notice her.
And she had to somehow squeeze past us in order to get to the restroom. And that’s what she did. I noticed that the Starbucks employees didn’t seem to notice her, but the three of us noticed her come in.

Anyway, we sat and talked and sipped our beverages. After what seemed like 15 minutes to a half hour, I think I remember a point where we all sort of looked at one another and wondered if the old woman in the restroom was okay. I mean, she really looked old and fragile and she hadn’t come out of the restroom yet.

I remember Mike walked to the restroom and knocked on the door, asking if the old woman was alright. No answer. He did this a few times and then tried to open the door.

It wasn’t locked.

He looked inside and… the old woman wasn’t there!

Could we have somehow not notice her when she got out? I think that we would’ve noticed because the old woman would’ve had to squeeze passed us again on the way out.

She just seemed to have vanished into thin air. And we all noticed her come in through the front door of that Starbucks.

I remember that we all sort of shook our heads in wonder. And soon after that we had to get back to the nightclub because it was getting close to downbeat time.

Was this the very first time I had seen an apparition? A ghost?

Who knows for sure….

Years later. Well, not too long ago. I approached Jim during one of our gigs and asked him
about that day when we saw the old woman. I asked him for confirmation that we had witnessed her vanish. And he told me yes, he’d remembered.

To this day I am puzzled by what I had experienced.

The more I think about it, the more I figure that if she were a ghost, she may have walked into that restroom and passed away there… that seeing her was the remnants of that event superimposed or embedded into the location. Who knows…

The tale of the vanishing woman was probably the most paranormal thing I’d ever experienced. Aside from smelling burning candles in odd places… or the smell of flowers where there aren’t any… or cold drafts in old buildings.

Anyway, Happy Halloween to everyone. Stay safe, and if you see a very old woman walking around, just ask yourself, is she real, or not?



Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and

10 thoughts on “The Vanishing Woman at Starbucks

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.