I’ve never been one to formally write a blog post, so I beg that you please take it easy on me with this one. My creative side usually takes me down another path of tangents. So, bear with me.
I went to the Starbucks drive-through a few weeks back. (Yeah, they have those.) I’m normally squinting from the sun, trying to play a game called “don’t fall asleep before you get to the window” with my eyelids. It’s like waiting in line for a fix. Except, it’s legal. And it tastes good.
So I order my usual, drive up to the window, fumble for my wallet, stop trying to pick the music I’m going to listen to on my way to work, throw my cigarette out my car window before the smoke gets into Starbucks and try really hard to look somewhat awake.
“Good morning,” a friendly familiar face said.
“Good morning,” I nodded to the person I see daily, yet for some reason have never asked his name. He’s a cool dude, we just never talk for long apart from the “here’s your drink” and “thank you have a good day!” dialogue we usually share.
I tried to hand him my debit card for the drink, but I was cut off by a waving hand saying, “The lady in front of you actually took care of your drink for you.”
“What? She paid for my drink? That’s so nice…” I asked, completely confused.
“Yup! You’re the lucky one!”
“But…why?” I felt immediately terrible after asking this question. You should never ask why when someone does something nice for you, that’s just rude, Sara.
“It turns out her grandpa just passed away. I guess he used to do that for people, paying it forward kind of thing.”
“Oh, I see,” I said, “Well, can I pay for the drink of the lady behind me?” I asked, and he smiled and nodded.
After this I drove off to work. It’s weird, the way to work seemed less tiresome. The traffic wasn’t so irritating. The people all around me seemed less…intolerable. Even the two hours of Los Angeles traffic didn’t seem to kill my spirits. Because secretly I knew, somewhere, someone was kind. And the kindness was passed down from their grandfather and I guarantee her children will inherit it. And the world will be beautiful. I swear, the world works from the inside-out. Beauty is in the people, I promise you on the days you just can’t stand the lines or the traffic or the telephone or social media or the classroom or the doctor’s office or the walk home or the bus ride or the restaurants or the television screen, I promise you, the beauty is in the people.
A few weeks later, I was at another Starbucks. A man stood next to me at the register. I just assumed he was waiting for change or a sugar packet or something. I ordered my drink, and the barista cheerfully told me, “Actually you’ve already been taken care of by this man” and she pointed to the man standing next to me.
Immediately, I said, “Really? Thank you! But…why?” and he smiled at me and said, just paying it forward. And I nodded thanked him about three more times and walked away to get my drink. And another lady came up to me and said,
“I couldn’t believe it either, it’s incredible, isn’t it?” and I looked over and noticed him still standing there, counting out cash as one after the other he paid for the entire line’s drink.
I’m not sure how long he stayed there, how many drinks he paid for. As I was leaving, I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Thank you again, I hope you have a good day.”
He smiled and nodded to me and said, “I hope you have a great day.”
And I left, completely confused. And then I realized how sad it was that something beautiful confused me. That there was no catch. He just wanted to pay for everyone’s coffee today. He just wanted people to smile and be kind and just be happy. And I hated how much the beauty confused me. I wished every day always came with a triple shot of kindness. The weightlessness, it’s a lot easier to handle. The happiness is a lot easier to swallow.
In memory of her grandfather and in thanks to the stranger in Starbucks, I am forwarding this message on to you in hopes that the world may know there is still kindness out there. Some days, you’re just taken care of. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t let beauty confuse you, let it move you and motivate you to keep on weightlessly moving forward.