As I walked in, I surveyed the scene. Almost every person was enveloped in their phone/computer and probably had no clue anyone new had walked through the door. I looked over my shoulder to see a line of about 10 people deep accumulating behind me. I got up to the cash register, ordered my drink, then asked for a $25 gift card. I quietly asked the barista to use the gift card for as many drinks as it would cover for the people behind me. I told her you can tell them I'm still here, but don't tell them who did it. She smiled...giggled...and said ok.
I got my drink...and took a seat in the corner to watch this unfold.
The first gentleman to receive a free drink demanded he pay, but the barista insisted it was covered...so he dropped his $5 he was going to use to pay for his drink into the barista's tip jar. Success. She turned to me and winked.
The second and third patrons in line were 2 old buddies having their weekly coffee date. They had to be pushing 80 and they were so confused at not having to pay that they just left their money on the counter and asked her to use it for the people behind them. It was a younger guy who then after receiving his free drink went over to the gentleman and shook their hands. Success.
I proceeded to watch 14 different people enjoy a "free" drink. Some people paid for the people behind them in line, and some people just took their free drink and scanned the room looking for the free drink fairy, smiling at everyone they encountered. Success.
But the best part about it: I also got to watch people step out of their normal robot-like morning routine and be human. They put their phones down. They picked their heads up and made eye contact with people in the room. They exchanged smiles and head nods, wondering if that was the person that paid for their drinks. I watched people be kind, courteous, and engaging. I watched people who normally would avoid eye contact, spark a conversation all because of a kind gesture. Success.
My favorite part was a little old man named Hank. I guess Hank comes in every day for his tall drip coffee with room for a splash of cream and sunshine (and that's exactly how he ordered his drink). I knew his name was Hank because everyone who worked there stopped what they were doing to say good morning to Hank. After receiving his free drink (the las drink the gift card covered), Hank took it upon himself to ask every single person in that starbucks if they were the one who got his coffee because he needed to say thank you. As I was sitting in the corner, I watched him go around the room, and knew he would eventually make it to me. As he got to me, I smiled. He just stopped and said "It was you huh? Stand up young lady." So I stood up, and as Hank balanced himself with his cane under one arm, he gave me the biggest, tightest hug he could with the other arm and said "You were that little ray of sunshine I seek every day. Today I am vertical, you woke up too, so be blessed not stressed." He tipped his hat, and hobbled away.
I packed up my stuff, and headed off to work.
Next time you can, pay it forward.
#whatdoyoudowhenyourehavingashittyday #trytosmile #ormakeotherpeoplesmile #itsnotthathard
I thought, that sounds like fun and I did it when I joined my friend for coffee at Vincenzo's. Now, I didn't set it up the same way. I was just happy to pay for people's coffee and then visit with my friend Lisa. And I didn't expect Vincenzo's to be a place that would have people who were particularly needy......my bad for that assumption after so many years in this business! So while we were chatting and catching up I had a woman wave and beam a big smile at me. I'll let you in on a little secret.....I often freeze and get scared internally because I have been in this business for SO LONG that I'm not sure if it's someone I don't remember and if they will be hurt or upset to not be recognized. Anyways, I found out it wasn't someone I knew. The woman came over with her walker and was visibly emotional and told me that it was so great to have been bought a coffee because she had been having a REALLY HARD day and it had bought her real joy. I was so moved by her sincerity......and I was reminded that simple acts of kindness are what we are CRAVING as a society. Just real human contact and kindness.
The second story is something someone did for me. As we age we all walk with different kinds of grief or complications in our lives and my life is no different. So I went to church on Sunday to have my spirit lifted. Prior to the service the lovely and brilliant Rev Jessica Rodela came to me and said that she was passing along to me the BEST PRESENT she had ever been given at Christmas. It is an advent calendar. I'm only on Day 5 but each day it has beautiful stories or instructions about how you can lift someone else's spirits and thereby lift your own. Stuff like 'donate a lightly worn pair of shoes', 'write a card to someone's boss telling them what a good employee someone is', 'think of someone who has lost a loved one and give them a Christmas decoration with a pic of their loved one in it'. And while I have been following through with it the natural consequence is that I have ended up feeling better because I am focused on what I have control of and not focused on the things in my life that I can't change anyway. (I know.....something I'm always talking about but putting it into action can be harder to remember when you are busy!)
When I wrote the card and gave it to the manager of the coffee shop that I go to about what a lovely employee she has in Taylor, she cried. And then Taylor thanked me and told me that she cried when the manager showed it to her. I think it's because kindness is so rare nowadays. (Except in a corporate way which feels more like branding than true kindness anymore.) Love and kindness are all that matter and all that we need at the end of the day. If you are having a hard day then that is the medicine. You won't regret it I promise!