It’s nice to wake up, grope through the morning’s routine, and encounter a kind stranger. Yes, it’s nice to remember that there are kind people out in the world. Some days, going to work in the mire, people about me seemingly relentless in their pursuit to bring out the worst in others, I forget about the rest of humanity. Then an afternoon with friends or a little moment like last week will snap me back to a balanced reality.
About eight months ago I motivated myself to get out the door by promising myself a tall, hot cup of Starbucks. The promise worked; I had the four extra minutes I needed after dropping off my daughter to get my cup of coffee and still get to work on time. When I reached the drive-thru window, the sweetest middle-aged lady leaned out the window with a huge smile and a pile of wispy bold hair. “It’s Wonderful Wednesday,” she greeted me, handed me my drink, and waived my payment. She explained, “The woman in front of you paid for your drink. Someone did that for her last week, and she is paying it forward on Wonderful Wednesday.” The coffee helped my energy level, but the generosity put a little bounce in my step that morning. A few Wednesdays later I decided to pass it forward myself.
I had forgotten all about it. Then on Thursday, suffering from an obnoxious cold and unused to my schedule I missed my pot of coffee. We made it safely to school, but I knew I couldn’t make it much further without my java. At the window, almost desperate now, the 250 pound gay server told me with a smile that the woman in front of me had paid for my drink. I just sat back in my seat, stunned. It was so simple, the act of paying for my tall, bold coffee. I wish that woman knew how her kindness motivated me throughout the day. I wish the woman who started Wonderful Wednesdays knows that I’ll be taking the tradition with me to another town, one Wednesday a month.
This post may seem unrelated to my work experience, but it is not. People who have spent most of the careers working with criminals typically begin to think of and treat everyone as a potential criminal. It’s frustrating. Without intentionally seeking out a different perspective, it’s easy to get sucked into t that kind of thinking. I’m grateful for the people who try to deliver simple acts of kindness in a town where it is rare and forgotten.