On a beautiful Saturday morning, I went to Starbucks to get my caffeine fix for the day. Everything was fine, normal, and actually boring until a car cut in front of me in the drive-thru lane. I didn’t know you could do that but it happened. What a way to start the day! Someone has apparently removed the orange traffic cones on the corner that were supposed to keep peace and order in this little community.
Now we have chaos. I was miffed.
I almost honked my horn, when a confused beautiful girl came out of the car, replaced the cones, and gave me a nice apologetic smile. Aha, the culprit! Thanksgiving just passed, Christmas is coming, and the end of the semester is approaching. After a mental flip coin, I decided to let it go, smile, keep my cool, and let the car proceed.
I didn’t think much about this incident afterwards. With Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby in the background, I realized it was no big deal. Christmas music just has a special way of putting me in merrier spirits. So I ordered my normal drink and pulled to the counter to pay for my caffeine addiction.
I was handing cash to the barista, when in a very sweet manner she pointed to the car in front that was driving away and said, “They paid for your drink. Have a happy thanksgiving.”
So the people in front of me, the very same folks who just cut in line, gave me a free drink. That was totally unexpected and even as I write this post and finish that cup of coffee I still can’t believe it happened. Overwhelmed. Thankful. Speechless. That’s how I felt as I drove away from the counter, sipping coffee freely given by a thoughtful stranger.
I’ve heard about stories like this on the radio, but it has never happened to me until this day. In Austin last year, there were so many pay it forward stories on the air that I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. But now, I’m a believer. Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) do happen and some times in the most unexpected places and situations. This just warmed my heart and encouraged me so much. I am grateful, not only because of the free coffee, but because people, in spite of the pressures of this world, still know how to give and bless others. This is such a great reminder, especially for this season.
I wonder if things would have turned out differently if I frowned on that girl and did not let them pass. I wonder if instead of a nice morning, I would have ruined it for everybody. I still think about this sweet encounter and realize that this shows how the little things really do make the difference. A simple smile, a humble perspective, a grateful heart, go a long way.
Now, if I can only let somebody pass in front of me when paying for tuition at McCombs that would be a huge ARK I’d be forever thankful for. I can only imagine my reaction. I see a few high jumps happening. But jokingly aside, the point is in this season of thanksgiving and cheer, small acts of random kindness go a long way in making a positive change.
The strangers on that car may never know who I am, what my name is, or how much what they did meant to me. But on this day, they put a smile on my face and reminded me to keep paying forward.
That’s a memorable impact and one that would stay with me for a while.